Last Updated on November 16, 2017 by Angela Colonna
This week, we would like to spotlight Shawn Schutte, an undergraduate plant science senior here at the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center. Shawn is not a ‘typical’ student but transferred to the MREC after years of experience in the Florida agricultural sector. Read his story below.
1. What is your major or main area of study?
My main area of study is plant science.
2. What is your main motivation to work with plants?
I enjoy finding better methods and easier ways to grow plants. Plants are very important to the environment and to people. Plants can have a calming effect on people and finding ways that all people can grow them is important.
3. What is your favorite plant?
It’s not really a single plant that I like, but turfgrass is my favorite. It is rewarding looking over the lawn after you mow it and it is all green and even.
4. When did you realize you enjoyed working with plants and/or the natural sciences?
I was very young when I realized that I wanted to get involved in the plant industry. My grandfather had a sod farm and I would go to work with him at times, and that is how it all got started for me. I was always working in my parents’ and grandparents’ yards. I always wanted the turf and landscapes to look neat and clean.
5. What is your hometown?
I was born and raised in Apopka, Florida, and currently live in Mount Dora.
6. Have you always been a University of Florida student or did you transfer to UF?
I am not the typical college student. I graduated high school in 1993, went directly to Valencia and received my A.A. After that, life kind of took over. I started working full time, got married and had a son. In 2007 or so, I decided to go back to school and get my BS degree. I found out that I could take classes online and at the MREC to finish my degree without having to go to the main UF campus in Gainesville, Florida. I always wanted to go to UF and that was my plan in high school, but now I can finally finish that plan.
7. If you could have lunch with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
I would like to have lunch with my grandparents. I do not get to see them that often and they are an important part of my upbringing. My grandfather was the main reason that I got involved in horticulture. I spent many days working in the yard with my grandparents, and having lunch or dinner with them would be great.
8. What is your dream job?
I would like to take care of a park. Having an area where people can enjoy and spent time with their family would be very satisfying. I always enjoyed going to nice park and enjoying the turf and ornamentals and how nice it always looked, I would like to give others that same feeling.
9. What is your favorite activity to do in your free time?
Usually in my free time I am doing baseball with my 12-year-old son. With working full time, going to school and having a family, there is usually not a whole lot of free time. When I do though I am usually spending time with my wife and son.
10. What is the best advice someone has given you?
In middle school there was phrase in my English class that was on the wall and it has stuck with me since then. It said, “No one tries to fail, but many fail to try”. Making the decision to go back to school was not easy but it has been worth it.
For more information about UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences’ majors follow this link.