Student Stories: Breaking the mold — female turfgrass student sees opportunity

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As the only female turfgrass science major at Penn State’s University Park campus, junior Devon Carroll is enjoying being a woman in what is considered a man's career field.

Being the only female student has been interesting, but Carroll said she quickly found her place in the turf family in the College of Agricultural Sciences. "Everyone has been very accepting and accommodating," she said. "Being the only girl has never bothered me. I actually enjoy the feeling of camaraderie and being different."

A native of Scranton, Carroll discovered the turfgrass science major with the help of her family. "I had worked at two golf courses prior to selecting the major and knew I liked the general atmosphere of the industry," she said. "Visiting campus and hearing about the job placement rates and ability to travel helped me solidify the decision."

Carroll's biggest reasons for choosing this major and career path were the outdoor and hands-on aspects of the job. "I knew I didn't want a desk job, and I enjoy being able to see my own progress," she said. "Career paths in turf generally are rewarding in personal accomplishment because effort is visible."

One of Carroll's role models since entering the industry is Nicole McFadyen, head groundskeeper for the Baltimore Orioles. Carroll got the chance to meet and stay with McFadyen during a shadowing trip this past year. "As one of only two female groundskeepers in baseball, she has a wealth of knowledge and an inspiration," Carroll said.

"She proves that a female not only can do the job, but can do it well since she runs a major league stadium."

At this point, Carroll said her interests are varied throughout the turfgrass science career field, and her goal is to experience as much as possible before graduation. "There are a variety of job opportunities in this major, and I want to be prepared for any of them," she said. "The more golf courses and stadiums I can visit, the better."

Carroll stays active on campus and is involved in Ag Advocates, Turf Club and Horticulture Club. She was also on the grounds crew for Penn State baseball, which plays at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, also home to the State College Spikes minor league team. This spring she hopes to work for Penn State Golf Courses.

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Last Updated October 22, 2015