The Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (NWMHRC) has been hiring summer technicians since we opened our doors in 1979.

In my tenure, we have hosted 15 season’s worth of excellent college-aged students, many of whom have gone on to professions in Extension, academia, agriculture, horticulture, and many other science-related vocations.

Keeping with tradition, we have an excellent line-up of summer technicians for the 2019 season. Not only are they a hard-working bunch, they are truly interested in the science behind growing tree fruits in northern Michigan. They are also a dedicated group of students that care about the success of our local growers.

Erin Lauwers is returning to the NWMHRC for her third season. Erin grew up Capac, Michigan on a hay and straw farm. Her family also farms sheep today. She has a horticulture degree from Michigan State University (MSU) that she has put to work as an assistance orchard manager in a southeast Michigan farm. Erin is returning to MSU this fall for a master’s degree in plant pathology on bacterial canker in sweet cherry, a disease for which growers currently have no control options. Erin speaks Spanish and is a terrific baker — she can even make homemade bagels.

Brody Schropp grew up in Lexington, Ohio. He moved to Florida in his sophomore year of high school and now attends University of Central Florida as a botany major. His grandparents live in Suttons Bay where he has been spending his summers. Brody worked for Cherry Bay Orchards on the harvest crew for four years before coming to work for the research station.

Brody is both positive and creative, and he enjoys associating color names for the different categories of ripening fruit. He wants to be a plant breeder, and he thinks jackfruit are the wave of the future.

Eli Kramer grew up in Glen Arbor and attended Suttons Bay High School. He is a junior at MSU and is in James Madison College, a residential college that offers world-class public affairs and policy programs. As a native to Leelanau County, Eli enjoys hiking on the Leelanau Conservancy properties, and he is currently away for two weeks on a study tour of Israel.

Eli is considering a career as an environmental lawyer and maintains his signature hair-do with DevaCurl.

Emma Grant is also a graduate of Suttons Bay High School where she shone on many fronts: she was on the robotics teams, drama club, National Honor’s Society and was valedictorian of her class. She is entering her sophomore year at MSU where she is majoring in horticulture.

Emma is a tractor-driving whiz, and she received her applicator’s license this season, which has taken a huge load off of the station’s farm crew. We have enjoyed getting to know Emma after two seasons on-staff and we look forward to recruiting her to the research team next summer. Emma might be famous one day for many of her talents, but her poem about the queens of the Cherry Industry is a good start.

We are lucky to have four great summer technicians working with us this season.

We also can’t wait to see where they might end up in their careers one day. The more people we can introduce to agriculture, the better.

Nikki Rothwell is a Michigan State University Extension district horticulturalist and coordinator of the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station.

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