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University of Maine Environmental Horticulture

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Student Focus - Alumni

Matt Johnson

Matt graduated in 2010 with a degree in Environmental Horticulture and a concentration in Horticultural Business. The same year he began working at Pleasant View Gardens as an assistant grower, worked his way into a section grower position, and became a lead grower in 2012. In 2013 he was recruited by SHS Griffin, a very large horticultural organization, and became a territory sales representative for them. At Griffin his roles include sales of young plants, seeds, and chemicals to operations all around New England. In addition he has been studying business at the graduate level and will graduate with honors from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire with an MBA in strategic marketing in December, 2013. Matt has been very successful in combining plant and horticultural knowledge with business skills. He says that the University of Maine taught him the fundamentals on how to create success in his life.

James Santiago

James was a M.S. degree student in Horticulture under the direction of Dr. John M. Smagula and worked on the nutrition and production of Maine wild blueberries. He completed the requirements for the graduate degree in August 2011. James is currently a Ph.D. student in the Molecular Plant Sciences program at Washington State University. His current research involves looking at the role of amino acid membrane protein transporters that are involved in the loading of amino acids into the phloem of Arabidopsis thaliana. The ultimate goal of his current research is to improve nitrogen partitioning and use in plants for improved plant productivity.”

Youping Sun

Youping was a Ph.D. degree student in Plant Science under the guidance of Dr. Donglin Zhang. He worked on the genetic diversity, micropropagation, and cold hardiness of Ilex glabra. After he received his degree in May 2010, he joined Clemson University as a postdoctoral research fellow and worked on the “large scale propagation, clonal selection and greenhouse production of Veratrum californicum”. He is currently working at Texas AgriLife Research Center at ELPaso. His research focuses on urban landscape and water conservation.

Kate Garland

Kate graduated in 2009 with a M.S. degree in Horticulture under the direction of Stephanie Burnett. She is a Horticulturist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service and says “I have a fabulous job.”  Her role is to support the gardening community in Penobscot County by conducting educational programs, producing newsletters, helping community gardening initiatives, and providing advice to individuals looking for horticultural help. A big part of her job is to coordinate their local Master Gardener Volunteer training.  During this training, citizens are educated in the art and science of horticulture with the purpose of preparing these volunteers to educate and serve their local communities.  She connects Master Gardeners with various outreach projects including Maine Harvest for Hunger, Kids Can Grow, and the Rogers Farm Demonstration Garden. “I am very proud of the impact these volunteers have on the community and the role I play in facilitating their work.”

Laura Cooper

Laura graduated in 2009 with a degree in Landscape Horticulture. She is currently the Garden Manager at Ernst Land Design located on Nantucket in Massachusetts. She manages over 90 residential estates, which involves interacting with the clients to discuss everything that pertains to their gardens. Her position also includes managing the garden crew; designing perennial beds, cut flower gardens, vegetable gardens, container plantings, and herb gardens; and the estimating and bidding of new jobs.

Meghan McPhee

Meghan graduated from the Landscape Horticulture program in 2009. She is currently employed with NatureWorks Landscape Services in Walpole, MA as an Account Manager. She manages 40+ clients, overseeing all of their maintenance requirements. Her days focus on developing schedules for crews, meeting with clients to discuss projects or contracts, setting up and meeting crews on-site, sales and financial meetings, and recruiting new talent for the company. She is also involved with design, ranging from small foundation plantings to full landscape renovations. “I have enjoyed my time at NatureWorks, and my success here has been hugely impacted by my time at UMaine. The landscape horticulture program at Orono gave me the confidence and knowledge to hit the ground running, and I am excited to see what the future holds”!

Erika (Williams) Speirs

Shortly before Erika graduated from the Landscape Horticulture program in 2003 she was hired as a Landscape Designer by Atlantic Landscape Construction, a progressive and innovative design/build firm located in Ellsworth, Maine.  For eight years she worked hand-in-hand with clientele from across the globe, Landscape Architects, Architects and their skilled landscape crew within the unique Mount Desert Island region.  During that time she honed both her design and project managing skills while being afforded the ability to teach several courses and lecture to various groups on an array of horticultural topics.  The year 2011 brought a desire to stretch her abilities and return to her Southern Maine roots.  She was hired into a position at the award-winning Landscape Architecture firm, Richardson & Associates, a firm she had become acquainted with during her time at Atlantic Landscape Construction. Currently she serves as a horticultural consultant, project manager, marketing director, graphic designer and office manager.

Travis McFarlin

After graduating from the Landscape Horticulture program in 2003, Travis was hired as a designer for Sonoran Landesign a Design/Build Firm in Phoenix, AZ. After 2 years of sales and design he was promoted to Director of Sales and Marketing, where he managed 10 designers. His responsibilities included reviewing designs for presentation, checking for pricing and construction accuracy, as well as marketing and new builder account acquisition. Four years later he was promoted to General Manager where his responsibilities increased to company-wide Management and he still continues to work on designing some of the company’s larger projects. “Designing has been fun and it allows me that creative outlet! Phoenix is a great area for our industry. It is a huge market with many opportunities for large scale projects where our creativity can be utilized. We were named one of the top 150 landscape companies in the Country by Lawn and Landscape Magazine, as well as the number one landscape company in Arizona for 2009.”

Nicholas Nataluk

Nick earned his degree in Landscape Horticulture in 2002. He has been landscaping since 1994 and currently owns and operates Fieldstone Landscaping in Lovell, Maine. We design and install all aspects of landscaping including softscapes, hardscapes, excavation, drainage, maintenance, etc. “I have definitely put my degree to good use.”

Corey Thibodeau

In 2001, Corey graduated from UMaine with a degree in Landscape Horticulture. Upon graduation, he worked in the field of horticulture for a few years before he made the decision to open his own business. He is now the proud owner of Mainely Hardscapes, which is a design build landscape company located in the Greater Bangor Area specializing in custom-made and unique hardscapes, water features, and outdoor fireplaces.

Maura (McGoldrick) Brush

Maura is currently the Director of Horticulture at Old Westbury Gardens in New York. She began working there as an intern the summer of 1999 and then upon graduation in May 2000 with her B.S. degree in Landscape Horticulture she was hired full-time. In 2007, she assumed the Directorship. In addition to her full-time position, she is a very active lecturer at other gardens, libraries, and garden clubs.

Image Description: Matt Johnson

Image Description: James Santiago

Image Description: Youping Sun

Image Description: Kate Garland

Image Description: Laura Cooper

Image Description: Meghan McPhee

Image Description: Erika (Williams) Speirs

Image Description: Travis McFarlin

Image Description: Nicholas Nataluk

Image Description: Corey Thibodeau

Image Description: Maura (McGoldrick) Brush

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Contact Information

University of Maine Environmental Horticulture
Deering Hall, Room 205
Orono, ME 04469
Phone: (207)581-2937 | Fax: (207)581-2999E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System