By Colby Denton, Communications Coordinator
Blue Ridge Community College
Emma Robinson is a 19-year-old student at Blue Ridge Community College using her love of plants and the environment to propagate a future working in the world of horticulture.
The sun shines down onto the opaque windows of the Blue Ridge greenhouse in Flat Rock perfectly illuminating the countless plants, vegetables and flowers contained within. Emma Robinson is one of the many individuals tasked with these plants’ care as a student in the College’s horticulture program.
A graduate of West Henderson High, and the current Vice President of Blue Ridge’s Student Government Association (SGA), Robinson is working toward both an Associate of Science in Horticulture Technology and an Associate of Arts transfer degree.
She didn’t always want to work with plants, though. It wasn’t until the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when she started collecting houseplants that her interest in the field began to blossom. She previously considered becoming an American Sign Language (ASL) instructor or lawyer, but says her lack of public speaking skills made her look elsewhere.
“The horticulture program has so many perks, like getting to work with plants in the sun, using your hands to work with the soil, getting to nurture something, and improving the Earth’s air quality and overall aesthetic,” she said.
Robinson compared working with plants to coloring, as it gives her the opportunity to make something beautiful while being creative at the same time.
She is heavily leaning toward landscape design as her career field. She feels inspired by the asymmetrical designs of English gardens, which elicit various sensory experiences for people.
One of the things she credits with the horticulture program’s resurgence is its devoted faculty members, who she said give their students endless hours of hands-on experience working in the greenhouse.
Since taking the courses, Robinson said she’s never stopped learning about plants, however she hopes to improve her knowledge of the different types of soil varieties.
In addition to working with plant varieties, she also helps plan student events with SGA. When she first joined SGA, Robinson said it was to meet students her age.
“I’d heard that SGA was seeking officers, so I applied and am really glad that I did,” she said, “being in SGA has really helped me get to know more people, get involved and just help the College.”
Her favorite part is their monthly meetings, which are open to representatives from all campus organizations. She encourages others to get involved around campus, and said it makes your college experience more fun and memorable.
She also hopes more students will consider horticulture as a major.
“I think if you like working with your hands and being outdoors, you’ll enjoy horticulture. Give it a try,” she said. “The people are so nice, and down to Earth.”
In addition to the standard benefits of working with plants, horticulture students also get to go on numerous educational field trips, which have included trips to the Biltmore Estate’s gardens, the North Carolina Arboretum, Burlington Gardens, and other private gardens.
Robinson graduates in Spring 2023, and hopes to continue working in the horticulture field as a career, whether as a florist or landscape designer.
To learn more info about the Blue Ridge horticulture program, visit blueridge.edu/horticulture.