Dustyn Nelson is active in the plant and flower shop, UConn Blooms. In addition, he advocates to state legislators for agriculture education. Here is what he said in an interview.
What is your major? Why did you choose this major? I am a horticulture major. I have been passionate about horticulture since I was young. My family has been involved in the horticulture industry for many years. My grandfather was a horticulture extension agent at UConn and owned a retail nursery. My father had a landscaping company, and my uncle is a turfgrass breeder. I went to an agriculture high school in Litchfield, CT and picked up horticulture naturally.
Name two or three activities, internships or jobs that have enriched your studies. I work at The Garden Barn Nursery in Vernon, Connecticut. I do a little bit of everything, but my official position is IT manager. I work on advertising for the nursery and a marketing campaigns where we send out coupons and postcards to help expand our customer base. I also work on graphic design for the nursery. I am able to take my practical business sense with what I have learned in the classroom and apply it in useful ways. I use critical thinking skills and assist the customers.
I am assistant coordinator of Connecticut FFA Association. The National FFA is the largest student youth organization. FFA focuses on agriculture and life skills such as public speaking and career development. We help high school students gain skills within their field of study and hold conferences to help them develop leadership skills.
I have worked at UConn Blooms, a plant and flower shop at UConn, since fall of 2012. I am now the assistant manager. I helped get the shop off the ground and was able to use what I learned in the classroom in a practical way. UConn Blooms is a small start-up business, and it is faced with different challenges than an established business. We work on getting our name out there by utilizing different venues to promote sales.
I have served on the Academic Planning Committee for the College. I helped establish an academic, research and overall plan for the next five to seven years.
Which one of these endeavors was the most memorable? Why? It is hard to pinpoint one moment that has been the most memorable. My philosophy is that you can’t always change the whole world, but you can change someone else’s world. Every day I look back and think, “Have I changed someone’s world today?” This is my personal measure of success. Whether it be opening up opportunities for a student or helping a customer create a backyard oasis, I hope that I have done something to improve someone’s life.
What was the biggest challenge in your UConn career? Getting UConn Blooms off the ground has been the biggest challenge. I work every day to leave a legacy with UConn Blooms. I have evolved to become the assistant manager because of my business experience. I work hard to think of new and innovative ways to create new products and draw in customers.
When do you expect to graduate? What then? I am graduating in May. I am going to be the business development coordinator at The Garden Barn Nursery. This will give me more responsibility at the nursery, and I will be able to work on bigger picture items. I want to keep up the nursery’s mission, which is the “nursery that keeps on growing.” My philosophy is to always keep on improving, so I plan to work to make the business grow.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I would like to say that if you are truly passionate about something, you should immerse yourself in it. The diversity of programs at UConn goes beyond the classroom and allows students to find other passions.
I help organize Agriculture Day at the state capital for FFA. I have spoken to the governor and legislators on bills about education and agriculture issues. I try to engage state legislators to increase state funding for high school agriculture education programs. Since my involvement, there has been an increase in state funding for these programs.
I have also represented the College of Agriculture at events, such as the National FFA Convention.