Renata Goossen
Photo courtesy of Renata Goossen

Renata Goossen always felt destined to be involved in the green industry.

It practically ran in her blood: Her mother and grandfather participated in 4-H while they grew up, and Goossen did as soon as she was eligible, too. The thought of working behind a computer, sitting quietly at a desk, sounded horrible to her.

“I really loved being outdoors and I couldn’t imagine sitting behind an office desk every day,” Goossen says. “It was a really easy decision for me when it came to pursuing a career.”

So far, it seems all’s going well for the Kansas State junior. Had the National Collegiate Landscape Competition gone on as planned, John Deere and the National Association of Landscape Professionals would’ve honored her at the scholarship dinner during the event. She would’ve also been attending her third NCLC, though the event was canceled due to the growing concern over COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Beyond her success at school, she’s also enjoyed living in Manhattan, Kansas, appropriately nicknamed “The Little Apple” and just a two-hour drive north from her home in Wichita. She used to compete at Kansas State during the state 4-H competitions, so she was always familiar with its horticulture program. She fell in love with the fact that the campus had greenhouses there, and though she threw around some other schools in her head, she felt most comfortable with Kansas State.

Goossen initially wanted to become a landscape designer, but after realizing the full scope of everything that can be done in horticulture, she’s settled on the production side of things.

“The way I see it, production is necessary to apply the plants that go into the landscape,” she says. “I started out with a more narrow perspective. I didn’t know how big the horticulture industry really is. I started to kind of open doors and what it could look like for me to become a part of the industry. There are so many jobs in the world, but I didn’t know how many there were in this industry alone.”

Now, after she’ll be working through at least a partially online junior year due to the coronavirus concerns, Goossen says she will spend her senior year doing several things. Among them is deciding on where she may spend two years in graduate school, as she loves research but feels like it’s now or never – she doesn’t feel like coming back to it once she finishes up her formal education.

Additionally, she’s hoping some of the scholarship money she earned will go toward attending Kansas State’s visit to Costa Rica, where a group of 10-15 students will tour production facilities and get a global perspective on their industry. Without the scholarship money, Goossen says she’s unsure she would be able to go.

“John Deere is such a big name in the agriculture industry in general. I grew up around John Deere tractors and combines,” she says. “Financially, getting the scholarship is a really big deal. Being a student in this day and age is really costly.”

Goossen says she has an underlying passion for educating those around her. After one day starting her own business, she wants to continue to host workshops and get the community around her involved in the green industry, even through recognition.

“Even if I don’t end up starting my own business right out of college… I do want that community element. A lot of people walk around every day past beautiful landscapes and they don’t even notice,” she says. “I want my life to be dedicated to educating people about their surroundings.”

If you know a student or are a student who should be featured in Student Spotlight, email editor Brian Horn at bhorn@gie.net.