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Spencer Bernard, Environmental Horticulture

Back in February of 2017, I was invited to come down and work in Texas for Andy’s Sprinkler Drainage and Lighting. So, after my last final in May, I packed up my things and made the drive down for the next three months. For the remainder of the summer, I would be working 60-hour weeks in the Texas summer heat as an irrigation technician. This meant I would be driving a box truck around all day going from one appointment to the next diagnosing, troubleshooting, and repairing residential sprinkler systems. After a relatively short training period, they sent me out on my own with an assistant recruited through the H2B program. This came with its challenges, as I had to make and manage my own schedule as well as manage the assistant I was with, as my assistants often did not speak any English.

I had taken about three years of Spanish in high school and hated every minute of it, but by the end of summer, I could hold a conversation about general topics and just about anything irrigation related without having to think too hard about it. Being able to comprehend another language that I was surrounded by every day opened a new door for me, as it has motivated me to take more Spanish classes here at CSU to improve my speaking ability.

Overall, I would consider this internship an incredible learning experience and a success, as managers at both branches of the company have given me offers to come back and work in Texas full time once I graduate. Between everything I learned from residential irrigation, Spanish culture, turfgrass science, and even just what it’s like to be a part of the working class, it was truly eye opening.

Graham Harrison, Environmental Horticulture

One of the main things that I learned during my internship at the University of Portland was to be able to think quickly on my feet.  More likely than not, I will probably find myself with a budget half that of professional teams that can afford the best products and best systems and make optimal turf performance more attainable.  I learned that the best sports managers are the ones who can think of solutions with minimal tools, and can do so under any weather conditions.  But trying to learn all things turf was just half of my internship.

When I decided to choose an out-of-state internship, I was looking for more than just expanding my knowledge on sports turf management — I was looking to grow as a person.  I was looking to meet new people and make new memories.  Because of this, I ended up halfway across the United States in Portland, Oregon.  It ended up being a whole new world to me.

I found myself exploring all the famous neighborhoods found in Portland on the seat of my bike.  The soccer fanatic inside of me felt obligated to attend as many Portland Timbers and Thorns games as possible.  There’s a beer festival? Sign me up.  I even managed to meet a good handful of interesting people who I plan to keep in contact with for many years to come.

It is impossible for me to sit here and try to put a value on my experiences during my time in Portland.  I not only grew as an aspiring turf manager, but also as a person.  It was like killing two birds with one stone, and I wouldn’t trade the three greatest months of my life for anything.

photo of graham harrison
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