Horticulture major Alexis Bacon doesn’t consider herself an entrepreneur, but she should.
She had already started two businesses before she turned 24, including a gardening business for several landowners in Chester County. Add in tutoring students in math, English and history outside of Temple and teaching a photography elective at her former high school and it’s clear that Bacon, 24, of Pottstown, knows a little something about self motivation.
It’s a trait she might have picked up from her grandfather, Erwin Bacon.
“My grandfather’s retirement plan consisted of moving to Cornish, Maine, where he had a wonderful view of Mount Washington,” said Bacon, who will graduate from Temple with a degree in Horticulture. “After reading a book about it, he started his own blueberry farm; he was completely self taught. I think that’s something I try to emulate — he was never afraid to simply try it and see what came of it. I’ve always admired that about him.”
Bacon worked at her grandfather’s farm during the summers in 2011 and 2012, assisting with farm advertising and promotion and digging in for various horticultural tasks from pruning and mowing to weeding and harvesting. Working outside has never been something Bacon has shied away from. In fact her life has been centered on quite the opposite.
“Every memory I have from my childhood occurred outside. If it happened in the living room, I don’t really remember anything about it,” she laughed. “If it happened outside by the persimmon tree, it’s as clear as day.”
Her parents, Seth and Sandra Bacon, kept a thriving vegetable garden and various perennials, Bacon said. Seth Bacon is also a soil scientist, focusing on wetland delineation.
“Growing up provided me the perfect motivation to go into horticulture,” she said.
Bacon, however, arrived at Temple by taking the scenic route. She began her college career at Smith College in Northampton, Maine. She was initially an Architecture major with a minor in Landscape Studies. Transferring to Temple after her sophomore year, “I knew I wanted my future to be outside,” she said.
“I had heard that Temple had a very good Horticulture program. I came for a visit and was very impressed by the people at Temple Ambler,” she said. “When I first starting looking for college, I think I looked at 18 or 19 places and then looked even more. Temple was the first place that I felt at home; that I felt fit my personality.”
While attending Temple, Bacon has expanded her horticultural knowledge outside of the classroom with part-time positions in the industry. At Bromm’s Lullaby Farms in Fountainville, she worked in the garden center and also developed some of the business’s marketing materials. At Bucks Country Gardens in Doylestown she assisted in the perennial, annual and pond departments in addition to designing and planning seasonal containers.
Between work and school, she also managed to become self taught in photography and start her own “botanical photography greeting card business,” selling her wares in five specialty stories before opting to focus on school and maintaining her impressively high grade point average. On campus, she also helped to found the Ambler Arts Association, providing artists and photographers an outlet to show off their talents to the University community.
“It was not hard to take on a leadership role and get something started on campus,” she said. “Everyone at Ambler has always been very supportive of students’ ideas and endeavors.”
Bacon said her true passion remains plants and teaching others about them. After graduation, her next stop is the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College where she will be their Education intern for the next year.
“I’m looking forward to working at Scott Arboretum and combining horticulture with education,” she said. “I think it will be a job that allows me to combine my interests in writing, photography and teaching with my love of plants and the outdoors. It’s a natural fit.”
Down the road, Bacon said she would like to teach gardening and the sciences and plans to pursue a master’s degree in teaching or forestry. Nearer term, but not right away, she’d like to head to Scotland and explore “WWOOFING,” short for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
“It’s an organization that connects volunteers with organic farms and growers,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to travel, to learn more about horticulture and organic farming all over the world. That’s not something I’d pass up.”
Temple’s horticulture program, Bacon said, highlights “practical, hands-on opportunities that have provided me with a wide range of experiences.”
“I know what the field is about. I know what careers are out there and I’m ready with the skills to be a part of it,” she said. “Temple, I think, gives students the opportunity and independence to do their own thing, to find their true passion. For one project, I talked to a teacher about going into the woodland garden and setting up a research plot; it was an amazing experience! Where else could you take a piece of campus and make it your own?”
Article Written by Jim Duffy, MSEd Public Relations and Website Coordinator. Temple University Ambler Administration Building
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