It’s been a long and winding road for Vanessa Campoverde to get to Miami-Dade County.
Born and raised in Peru, Campoverde moved around a lot because her dad was in the army. After high school graduation, she went to college in Lima, Peru, and earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences.
In 2008, Campoverde came to the University of Florida to earn a master’s in plant pathology. She paid her way through graduate school with a scholarship and her job as a graduate research assistant.
Since, 2011, Campoverde has worked as a commercial agricultural ornamentals agent for UF/IFAS Extension Miami-Dade County.
Ornamental plants are the non-edible types that you see inside and outside people’s homes and workplaces that help spruce up the facility.
As a UF/IFAS Extension county faculty member, Campoverde gives science-based information to ornamental plant professionals to help their businesses thrive in a sustainable manner.
Before working for UF/IFAS Extension, Campoverde worked with at the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center Plant Diagnostic Clinic and before that with food crops at a research center for the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
“I considered working in international non-governmental organizations to provide transfer technology and education to growers in remote locations, whose lives depend on what they can harvest,” she said.
That’s tantamount to Extension work, but Campoverde said she did not know that at the time.
Then she switched her focus to ornamental plants.
“One spring break, I took a field course that allowed me to visit an ornamental plant research program in South Florida,” Campoverde said. “The beauty and diversity of ornamental plants in such a sub-tropical environment was like a garden full of opportunities to continue my professional development.”
Working as an Extension agent has allowed her to push her limits and seek knowledge that is relevant to better help her clients.
“I am able to reach out to underrepresented minority groups who seek educational opportunities,” Campoverde said. “I had the opportunity to teach in Latin American countries under the U.S. Agency for International Development Farmer-to-Farmer program and other organizations. I am proud of what I can do for others with what I know.”
In her time at UF/IFAS, Campoverde has received the UF Excellence in Internationalizing Extension Award and the Farm Credit Young Professional Award. She also earned permanent status and a promotion at UF/IFAS.
She’s inspired every day by other women in agriculture.
“Each one of you is a fearless, creative and multi-tasking human being who has the ability to relate to others and care for them in each of your capacities,” Campoverde said. “As an educator, supervisor, as a nursery operator/consultant or as a scientist. You could make a difference in someone’s life with your expertise, and that feeling is priceless. Every time I see a group in agriculture with more inclusiveness through female partners, I see it as an environment of forward thinking toward equality and a diverse environment.”