Student stories: Plant sciences major interns with Monrovia in Pacific Northwest

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Switching majors in college is not unusual, but Morgan Lingle followed an unusual path. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology before she began pursuing her interests in plants professionally.

The senior plant sciences major with a horticulture option from Dubois, Pennsylvania, discovered that psychology was not fulfilling and felt as if something was missing. After she worked in the garden centers at several retail stores — being outside and learning about the plants filled that void — she discovered that botany was where she wanted to focus.

Lingle was excited to work with plants, especially in botanical gardens. "I'm in heaven whenever I go there," she said. "I just love how much happier plants make people." So it's no surprise that she really enjoyed her first internship, with Monrovia, a plant production company in Oregon.

Turns out, she loved the Northwest and made the most out of living in Portland. "It's so relaxed and laid back — the nature and scenery are so beautiful out there," Lingle said.

Her internship involved eight areas of plant production, including propagation, trimming and potting. She also learned about grafting, which involves cutting into a plant's living tissue and fusing parts of two plants together.

As the only intern at Monrovia, Lingle had her work cut out for her, especially since she had to communicate with workers who didn't speak much English. "I had to overcome the language barrier," she said. "At times it was lonely, but I could still have fun with the workers, and I definitely gained the experience I needed."

At times the work was intimidating — Lingle had to be precise and sterile when dealing with plant tissue cultures. "It is all a very delicate process when you cut small pieces of plant tissue into even smaller pieces," she said. "Each plant has its own outcome, and they are spaced apart and moved into all different areas according to their growth requirements."

Lingle, who is president of the Penn State Horticulture Club, also experienced the post-production side of plants. She witnessed the sales area at the expo, where plants from Monrovia's California branch were brought in for buyers to observe and order. She was tasked with organizing the rose display for the buyers, and she also sat in on client and sales meetings.

Lingle liked working for Monrovia and wants to explore other areas of horticulture, but her main goal is to be curator of a botanical garden.

"This internship helped me find myself, find who am I again," she said. "For me, it was the right thing to do, and I know I'm headed in the right direction now."

Get information about studying plant sciences and horticulture in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Last Updated December 13, 2016