Jenny Cunningham

There are a lot of things that HTC graduate Jenny Cunningham likes about being greenhouse manager at the Minnesota State Fair for the past three-and-a-half years. For one thing, she says, it’s fun.

“I really like the people I work with,” explains Cunningham. “When you work in seasonal operations, there’s so much pressure – so much to get done. We take our work seriously and get a lot done, but have fun, too.” She graduated from HTC’s two-year Horticulture program in 2006.

Today she’s in charge of the tree greenhouses and over 70 gardens on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. While spring and summer are intensely busy, there’s year-round activity. In winter, the greenhouse staff consists of Cunningham and one other full-time worker.  They start plants from seeds and cuttings, and they also keep notes on what plants did well and what didn’t during the previous growing season. In spring and summer the staff increases to eight or nine workers as the workload demands.

During the hot, dry summer of 2012, the usual once-a-week watering schedule changed to three days a week, says Cunningham. Even with the hectic schedule leading up to Minnesota’s Great Get-Together at summer’s end, she finds enjoyment in a job that takes gardening to a whole different level.  

“I get to use my own ideas and put them into action,” says Cunningham, “and that’s really gratifying. In addition, she enjoys the response from fair-goers. “So many people see our work at the fair and compliment what my crew and I do.”  That’s another reason she’s glad she decided to pursue formal training that would support her interest in plants and gardening.

“I had been doing gardening and landscaping since I was 18,” says Cunningham, who was raised in Dayton, Minnesota, and now lives in Blaine.  “I needed a career, not just a seasonal job.” That’s when she decided to attend HTC. “I knew quite a lot about annuals, but at HTC I learned about soil science, trees and shrubs, and equipment.” In equipment class, the students drove trucks and bobcats, training that paid off, according to Cunningham. “At my first job at a nursery I had to drive a loader, but I knew how because we had done it in equipment class.”

With a career that literally puts her work on display for the whole state, Jenny Cunningham is glad she can rely on the strong base of knowledge she gained in the horticulture program. “I really liked the hands-on training at HTC, working in the greenhouse and using the equipment.” With that background, she has found a career where there’s always room to grow.

Learn more about the Landscape and Horticulture program

Last updated by jhanson : 2015-02-21 15:18:44