Career Opportunities

Professionals with a degree in Horticulture engage in a wide variety of career paths including but not limited to:

  • Horticulture therapy
  • Interior plantscaping
  • Research graduate studies
  • Plant propagation
  • Integrated pest management
  • Sports turf management
  • Tissue culture
  • Garden writer
  • Landscape design, installation and management
  • Fruit/vegetable production and distribution
  • Biotechnology
  • Greenhouse industry
  • Service enterprises
  • Wholesale/retail florist

Meet some of our alumni!


Patty Skinkis in vineyard_verticalwebPatty Skinkis

Viticulture Extension Specialist & Associate Professor
Oregon State University, Department of Horticulture, Oregon Wine Research Institute
Corvallis, Oregon

Hometown: Oneida, WI
B.S. Horticulture - Professional Option (2002), UW-River Falls
Ph.D. Horticulture, Purdue University (2006)

As viticultural at Oregon State University, I serve in the tripartite mission of the land-grant university by conducting extension, research, and teaching. I develop and deliver outreach programs to the Oregon wine grape industry, conduct applied research to meet industry needs, and teach course in viticulture to undergraduate and graduate students. The majority of my time is spent working directly with the commercial wine grape industry statewide through Extension.

I truly enjoy working with the wine grape industry in Oregon to develop research studies that meet their production challenges and develop outreach programs and products to help keep them informed of new information. Having an Extension position means that there is never a dull moment and there is no such thing as a "typical" day. I enjoy being a part of the life-long learning that spans from student to producer, effectively working towards the mission of land-grant universities.

During my undergraduate degree program at UWRF, I completed two internships that were valuable in helping me determine my career track. My first internship was with the University of Wisconsin Extension in Outagamie County where I served as a public garden coordinator. In this position, I gained experience in working with the public sector and developing outreach programs in gardening and basic horticultural concepts. After taking Dr. Brian Smith's course in fruit production at UWRF, I became very interested in commercial fruit production and sought out a research internship through UW-Peninsular Ag Research Station in Sturgeon Bay, WI. It is through that experience that I became very interested in fruit production research and viticulture.

Patty Skinkis in vineyard_hortizontalwebIn addition to the horticulture curriculum and advising at UWRF, I found being a part of other organizations were beneficial to my career development. I was a member of the UWRF Horticulture Society, Pi Alpha Xi, and UWRF Floral Evaluation Team. All provided me with opportunities to learn outside of the classroom and develop leadership skills.


Justin Hancock_smallJustin W. Hancock

Senior Garden Editor
Better Homes and Gardens
Des Moines, IA

Hometown: Detroit Lakes, MN
B.S. Horticulture (1997)

As senior garden editor at Better Homes and Gardens, I'm charged with overseeing all things garden-related in the digital sphere, including the brand's web site and apps for smart phones and tablets. This includes planning and executing new gardening stories throughout the year, collaborating with my colleagues who work for the print magazine, and dreaming up new ways to deliver gardening tips and information to the general public.

One of the most amazing things about working in garden publishing is all the people I get to work with and all of the experiences I'm lucky enough to have. I work with plant breeders and marketing teams around the world, learning about new plant varieties (and often getting to trial them before they're out on the market); I'm constantly exposed to the newest gardening/horticulture products on the market; and I get to help promote gardening and horticulture on the national stage (such as appearing on NBC's The Today Show and ABC's Live with Regis and Kelly).

My experiences at UW-River Falls were invaluable in getting me where I am today. My classwork exposed me to just about every corner of the industry, from turf and fruit/vegetable production to greenhouse management to woody ornamentals. My internship experiences (with a publisher in Minneapolis on a gardening book and at a botanical garden in Florida) gave me the perfect hands-on, day-to-day worldload to succeed in garden publishing. I was well-prepared to jump right into horticulture in the real world thanks to UWRF.


Melanie Welles_Horticulture AlumniMelanie Welles

Greenhouse Supervisor

George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate
and Gardens
Mount Vernon, VA

Hometown: Lebanon, WI
B.S. Horticulture - Professional Option (2003)

“You have the coolest job!” is what I frequently hear from visitors to the Mount Vernon Estate when I leave the behind the scenes production greenhouse complex to tend to projects on the main estate. I am responsible for producing plant material to supply the four main gardens, pioneer farm, gristmill and landscape on George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.
The four main gardens alone cover an area larger than six acres, so thousands of plants are needed to fill the space!

Growing the vegetables, herbs, annual and perennial flowers, shrubs and even some trees for the estate is very rewarding work; over 1 million visitors each year see the plants I produce. For historic accuracy; the plants grown in the gardens were introduced to United States in the year 1799 or earlier, the year of George Washington’s death, so while it is interesting to work with heirloom varieties the lack of disease resistance and hybrid vigor presents many challenges.

In addition to the daily management of over 15,000 square feet of growing space, watering, fertilizing and scouting for pests I start plants from seed we collect on the estate and propagate fig and boxwood cuttings for retail sales. Many visitors come specifically to purchase Mount Vernon boxwood!

I am very thankful for the broad spectrum and hands on horticulture education I received while at UWRF. The excellent knowledge base I gained allows me to successfully do my job growing and maintaining a very wide variety of plant material from cabbage to boxwood to citrus trees and everything in between!


Michaela Molter, Horticulture AlumnaMichaela Molter

Horticulturist/Landscape Designer
Johnson’s Nursery Inc.
Menomonee Falls, WI

Hometown: Cadott, WI
B.S. Landscape Design and Contracting with a Business Emphasis

I joined the Johnson’s team in the spring of 2009 as a Horticulturist and Landscape Designer. I work hand in hand with homeowners interested in beautification and functionality of their property. As a designer, I create landscape designs based on our customer’s interests and overall property functions. As a horticulturist, it is my job to steer their eyes and plant knowledge towards plant material that is best suited for their maintenance practices, the sites cultural conditions, and plant hardiness.

Aside from landscape design, every day I experience a new and exciting challenge. Whether it’s plant disease diagnostics or general plant identification. I also lead the companies “Grow Like A Pro” garden classes for the general public as well as teach educational classes including: Gardening for Kids, Native Plants of Wisconsin and Do It Yourself Pruning. All in all, the education I acquired from the UW-River Falls as well as the exposure to hands-on discussions and labs, prepared me for the everyday questions and scenarios of the real world.

Prior to working at Johnson’s Nursery Inc, I spent two years living and working as a Horticulturist in New Zealand It was during these two years that I realized the endless opportunities that lie ahead of me. My education and passion for horticulture, shaped by the constant enthusiasm of the professors of the Plant and Earth Science Department and UWRF campus community, opened my eyes to the plethora of opportunities not only in the United States, but countries around the world!       


Kevin Roethle, Horticulture AlumniKevin Roethle

Head of New Product Development

Ball Seed Company,
West Chicago, IL

Hometown: Rubicon, WI
B.S. Horticulture - Professional Option (2003)

Almost 10 years after graduating from UWRF, I am currently employed by Ball Seed Company as Head of New Product Development. I am responsible for working with outside plant breeders to help trial, set up a supply chain, and arrange the sales and marketing plan for exclusive new plant varieties for North America. The breeders we work with are diverse in nature and range from large professional plant breeding companies, to universities, to back-yard breeders who are looking for a partner to help bring their new varieties to market.

When I started with Ball Seed in 2004, I spent my first six years working in supply management. During that time I helped manage unrooted and callused geranium programs as well as the Pacific Region regional young plant supply chain. My main responsibilities included working with the sales force and suppliers and creating programs to be presented to wholesale growers.

UWRF exposed me to so many different aspects of the horticulture industry, in effect opening the door to Ball Seed. These experiences included lab time in the greenhouse, diverse course work, and involvement with the Horticulture Society and Floral Evaluation Team. The CAFES internship program was instrumental in connecting me with Ball Horticulture and upon graduation I spent nine months in the Netherlands working for a perennial grower. This opportunity was arranged by Communicating For Agriculture and offered a global perspective on horticulture. Ultimately, horticulture has many different options and my time at UWRF gave me the experience to succeed.

Employment Areas

  • Botanic Gardens and Arboreta
  • Public Gardens
  • Retail Garden Centers
  • Landscape Plant Nurseries
  • Horticulture Supply Companies
  • City Parks
  • Regulatory Governmental Agencies
  • Education and Extension

Professional Organizations & Job Postings

Professional Certifications

With a professional certification you can easily stand apart from your competition, and be recognized as a leader in the field - someone with professional qualifications and ethics. UWRF Horticulture curriculum prepares students to be successful in obtaining professional certifications including:

Contact Us

Plant and Earth Science
324 Agricultural Science
611 S. 3rd St.

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