As a way to learn more about the 23 majors in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Florida, we’ve been asking 23 questions. Shelby Kucharski, an undergraduate student in plant science, answered our 23 questions while showing us around Field and Fork Farm and Gardens. Watch the video to learn more about Kucharski’s Field and Fork internship, her favorite places in Gainesville and her current research.
Meredith: We’re here with Shelby, a student in one of our 23 majors, so we have 23 questions for her. Are you ready, Shelby?
Meredith: Let’s get started. What are you up to today?
Shelby: So we’re here at UF Field and Fork Farm and Gardens and I was just trellising some cucumbers.
Meredith: You’re an intern here at Field and Fork this semester. What does that mean?
Shelby: Yeah so I’m an agroforestry intern here, so there’s two parts to my internship. The first half is I work at the international forest garden over there to improve harvestability and then the second half is I actually work with a group of other interns to work on the farm and develop produce that we can send to the pantry.
Meredith: What is your major?
Shelby: My major is plant science.
Meredith: Why did you choose plant science as your major?
Shelby: So I actually started out majoring in biomedical engineering because I really liked research—and I still do—but I wanted an outdoor component to my research and the ability to positively affect the environment and plant science gave me that ability.
Meredith: So we’re here at the farm and gardens, so if you had to relate your personality to any vegetable, which would it be?
Shelby: Oh that’s a tough one. I would probably say broccoli. It was one of the first vegetables liked as a kid. It’s also a little cold tolerant and I like cold weather.
Meredith: What is your favorite month?
Shelby: My favorite month is probably October. One of my favorite holidays is Halloween and it’s also a great harvest time and I love when the leaves change color, a great season.
Meredith: If you could be any plant what would it be?
Shelby: So I have a small army of houseplants so I’d probably pick one of those because I see them just about every day and I have a really cool one it’s called a Silver Splash Pothos and it has silver-like patches in its leaves and I love plant foliage.
Meredith: Why should other students visit the Field and Fork Farm and Gardens?
Shelby: Yeah that’s a great question. So you can visit the Farm and Garden and just walk through for a peaceful stroll or you can stop by for one of our events if you follow our social media pages and we also have compost here, so if you live on campus or nearby you can bring your compost here.
Meredith: Sunrises or sunsets?
Shelby: I would probably have to go with sunsets.
Meredith: Where is the furthest you have traveled?
Shelby: So I haven’t left the US yet, but the furthest I’ve gone within the United States would be northern California to see the redwood trees.
Meredith: Where are your go-to places to hike in Gainesville?
Shelby: I’m kind of a sucker for the Hawthorne Trail mostly because it has a lot of branching trails and also a paved part to longboard or roller blade.
Meredith: What’s your favorite class you’ve taken here?
Shelby: Oh so I have quite a few. My most recent one would probably be global change ecology and sustainability. We kind of look at climate change facts from an unbiased opinion and it’s a great course
Meredith: What is one skill you hope to learn before you graduate?
Shelby: Yeah so this is my last semester here and one of the skills I really wanted to learn was about how farmers prioritize tasks on the farm, so I was able to do that by working here at the garden and really working with a team of people to figure out what tasks we need to get done and this will make great use for my research to make sure that it’s very practical.
Meredith: So what is your—what is the involvement of your research?
Shelby: Yeah so I work in an agronomy lab on campus and right now I do a lot of soil analysis, kind of working on carbon stabilization. It’s a lot of fun.
Meredith: What is your dream job?
Shelby: So my dream job would probably be to work for an established agricultural company and improve their sustainability, so work on the research team and either create new practices or help improve their current ones.
Meredith: And what did you want to be when you were younger?
Shelby: When I was younger I wanted to be a teacher, mostly because I loved learning, probably why I love research so much, but also because I really liked looking at things from new perspectives and trying to help my classmates understand the material.
Meredith: Did you grow up in agriculture or horticulture?
Shelby: No I actually didn’t. I’m from a small town and there was a lot of farms but I myself didn’t work on any or wasn’t really involved in that part.
Meredith: What has been the best part of this semester so far?
Shelby: Oh easily this internship. I have learned so much and I’ve already taken what I’ve learned on the farm and applied it to things like my senior capstone project so it’s been a really great experience.
Meredith: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Shelby: Oh that’s a good one. I would probably say elemental control. It would be practical for what I do but also I jump at any opportunity to kind of keep balance and peace between humans and nature.
Meredith: Favorite TV show or movie right now?
Shelby: I’m not big on TV or movies, but I would probably say one of my classic go-tos would be Parks and Rec.
Meredith: What is the best place to eat on campus?
Shelby: Yeah so I am a huge advocate of packing your own lunch but I do go to the Reitz Union and heat up my food and meet my friends at the food court, but if I’m splurging probably Moe’s.
Meredith: And why did you choose the University of Florida?
Shelby: Oh that’s a great question. My dad lives in Florida so even though I’m from Maryland I still looked at Florida for colleges and when I came across UF, there was just something about it that was very welcoming and inviting, but also a competitive aspect with a lot of research, which is something I was really looking for.
Meredith: Thank you so much for catching up with us today, Shelby. I hope you have a great rest of your semester!
Shelby: Thanks, you too!