When thinking of The University of Florida, many associate it with the Gainesville location. However, many local UF education centers exist through UF/IFAS Extension. At the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (MREC) in Apopka, students can receive degrees in Plant Science or Geomatics.
Mandy Morgan, a former MREC student, currently serves as the Horticultural Manager and Buyer at Live Trends Design Group. Live Trends creates indoor “living” decor from plant material.
“What I love about this company is we are incorporating plants into fashion trends, and even attract non-plant nerds to the plant kingdom,” says Morgan.
Her interest in botany came early in her college career. Morgan recalls being “immediately drawn to the science and mystery of how humans use plants as medicine and textiles, for building, and many other ways.”
Morgan began her academic career with MREC earning her undergraduate degree in plant science; she then continued at MREC in the master’s program, eventually earning an Environmental Horticulture degree with a focus on medicinal plant production.
She describes her most rewarding experience as being able to begin the medicinal plant program, which is continuing to grow. There were other surprises along the way- such as washing off roots in the middle of a tropical storm. She also recently learned a chapter of her thesis became published in the Journal of Horticulture and Forestry. Writing her own thesis was a major challenge that came with a great reward.
For those considering a non-traditional campus, she offers some last bit of advice. “There are so many opportunities at smaller campuses. You are able to connect with faculty and people in the industry which gives rise to greater career opportunities. I love MREC and am forever grateful for the mentorship and experiences I had with the amazing students, faculty, and staff.”