Get to know: Samantha, Summer Intern

Hi! My name is Samantha Mundy

Samantha Mundy
Samantha Mundy

I’m the summer intern this year! I’m currently pursuing a degree in Horticulture with a concentration in Public Horticulture from Purdue University.

I’m from Indiana, and it’s nice, but I’ve lived there my whole life, and I wanted the experience of living out-of-state before I graduate. Wisconsin is a beautiful state, and it’s similar enough to home that the move wasn’t too jarring.

I’m passionate about plants, of course, but I also love animals! Growing up, my family always had pets, which definitely impacted me. I have a lot of fond memories of chasing lizards in Florida and listening for birds on the porch at home. The animals got me interested in the plants, not the other way around!

Speaking of birds, I’ve started carrying around a Birds of Wisconsin book with me so I can check off any new bird species I see, and I’m taking maybe too many pictures of the critters around the gardens. Everyone tells me I’ll get tired of seeing the deer so close up, but I don’t think I will!

I’ve previously worked at the Purdue Horticulture Greenhouse, which was a good jumping off point in terms of what it’s like to work with plants in general, but this job is so much more involved, both in the work I’m doing and the interactions I have with others.

At the greenhouse, I was doing most of my work alone, and now there are people around all the time! That makes the day much more enjoyable. Everyone has been so kind to me and it’s really helped me as I’ve started to get into the rhythm of the work.

I also work for Purdue Dining, which is much more fast-paced but also confirmed my drive to do work that helps people, even if it’s just helping them have a good lunch! After doing this internship for a while, the personal satisfaction of making an enjoyable experience for visitors has proven to have carried over.

The work itself is surprisingly fun, too. It’s been a lot of weeding, planting, and general maintenance, which I’ve found only gets more satisfying as time goes on. Spending so much time digging around in the dirt has also allowed me to indulge in my other hobby: Roly-polies!

I currently have two tanks in my room which I started in January of this year, both with wild-caught individuals from around Purdue and my home. Some of them are orange!

I’ve added a few that I’ve caught here to my tanks, but unfortunately, it looks like the populations around the garden are infected with a virus, so some of the species are off-limits for keeping. Still, I like looking for them when I’m weeding and admiring all the different colors.

In addition to my typical work around the gardens, I’m also working on a project involving the prairie next to the gardens. I’ve been recording the species present currently, and I’ll eventually put together a list of plants that we should plant there, whether they’re new species entirely or were planted there originally in 1995 and have since died out.

I’ll also be noting what plants in the prairie are invasive and how we could potentially get rid of them. It’s been a pretty big undertaking, but I’m having a lot of fun with it!

Even in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve learned so much about what it means to work in a garden like this and how dedicated everyone is to making sure guests have an enjoyable and educational experience. I love knowing that what I do will have an impact on people, and I’m excited to be a part of this great group of people!