Student Spotlight brings you the perspectives of horticulture students and insights into the future of the industry.

Photo courtesy of Savana Craven

Savana Craven didn’t want to go to college and already had career ambitions in a different industry entirely, but at her mother’s urging, Craven eventually tried Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus.

She didn’t see a point in getting more education because she had already attended cosmetology school and was well-positioned to work in a salon as she finished obtaining her hair license. And even if she did go to school, Craven didn’t know what she would major in. By the time she eventually enrolled, she went as a general studies major. Needless to say, she enrolled reluctantly.

“My mom said, ‘You should go, if nothing else, for the experience,” Craven says. “‘Get out there, live on your own,’ and I was like, ‘Oh man, that’s an expensive experience, but okay, I’ll go do it.’”

Now she’s working at Sunline Landscaping in Ogden, Utah, which is close to home. In just a matter of years, the staff at BYU capitalized on Craven’s interests, which were evidenced in some of the classes she took in high school like natural sciences, agricultural biology and a greenhouse operations class. In particular, professor Skyler Westergard influenced Craven’s decision to become a landscape designer. After taking his class, she eventually became his teaching assistant.

“He motivated me not to just stay in college, but pursue a landscape design career,” Craven says. “I attribute a lot of my success to him, but he doesn’t like to take credit.”

And, she’s had a lot of success in the industry already. Aside from getting offered her first full-time landscaping job at Sunline, where she interned earlier this year for about a month, she also interned at LID Landscapes in Boulder, Colorado.

While in school, she was one of the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ student ambassadors, which allowed her to network with her peers from across the country and attend workshops and guest speeches in Kentucky.

She heard about the opportunity while competing at the National Collegiate Landscape Competition two years ago, and this year, she finished second in both the exterior and interior landscape design contests.

Craven says she’s grown into the design element of the industry despite never previously being great at art. Plus, she entered the industry working out in the field during the first few weeks of her internship and was initially interested in botany and plant sciences before deciding she didn’t love working in a laboratory.

Still, she’s enjoyed creating 3D models since she took Westergard’s design class. Craven believes everyone is creative – you just have to find your niche.

“I’m just left-brained and right-brained enough to where it worked out,” Craven says. “Landscape design and architecture, you have to be really precise, but I do have a creative side where I can envision cool spaces or things I would like to see. Being able to put that on paper or in Auto CAD or in a 3D modeling software, I just had a knack for.”

Looking ahead, Craven wants to work on larger projects like parks or high-end commercial designs. She admits that while she doesn’t know what her future holds, she knows what she’s working toward, which is a welcomed change since walking into BYU without a major in mind.

“My goal is just to create spaces that people can enjoy and that have a good impact on the environment. I’m always thinking about water conservation and implementing native plants in the landscape,” Craven says. “I just see all these awesome, big-time architects making these awesome gardens and botanical centers. That’s really what I’m kind of working toward.”