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ASHS Member Chrislyn Particka:  “Contributions Start New Careers.”


Chrislyn Particka’s interest in horticulture started at age 13 when her family moved from Indiana to Arkansas after purchasing a blueberry farm.  Over the years, her family worked with apples, Asian pears, raspberries, and blackberries, and she experienced all aspects of the farm operation.  During her senior year of high school, Curt Rom (current ASHS president and University of Arkansas faculty member) visited the farm and encouraged her to consider majoring in horticulture.  Needless to say, his encouragement worked! Chrislyn completed her BS and MS at University of Arkansas, then went to Michigan State University for her PhD in 2005, during which she was awarded an ASHS scholarship and travel grant.  She then accepted a position as research director with a vertically-integrated small fruits company in western Washington State, and in 2011, she accepted her current position as Extension support specialist/manager of the Northern Grapes Project in December of that year.  

Chrislyn, how did you come to be a recipient of an ASHS Travel Grant and Scholarship? 

 “I have been active in ASHS since I was an undergraduate student at the University of Arkansas. I attended both Southern Region and National ASHS meetings, participated in plant judging and oral presentation competitions, and was an officer in the Southern Region Collegiate Branch.  In 1998, I was awarded the E. Ted Sims, Jr. Memorial Scholarship and received a grant to travel to the annual meeting when I was a PhD student at Michigan State in 2004. 

Has your resulting involvement in ASHS directly influenced your career? 

“My involvement with ASHS has certainly had a positive impact on my horticultural career – I remember being somewhat “star struck” when meeting scientists whose work I had read and cited, and now can count many of those people as friends.  After finishing my PhD, I took a position as research director of a small fruits company in Washington State, during which I continued my involvement in ASHS as an industry member.  After leaving that position to follow my husband to New York State for his job, I accepted a position at Cornell University as manager of the Northern Grapes Project, a large, multi-state grant that is funded through the USDA’s Specialty Crops Research Initiative.  I greatly enjoy my current position, and now plan to make a career out of grant and project management in horticulture – I feel like it’s a great fit for me.” 

Do you feel that ASHS Endowment contributions towards scholarships and travel grant are effective? 

“That initial support from ASHS as a student now allows me to network with a great many horticultural scientists and make connections that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to.  I’m grateful for the positive experience I had with ASHS as a student, including the scholarship and travel grant, as it definitely impacted my decision to continue my ASHS membership as a professional. “

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