Humans At Sam: Horticulturist Asia Gillespie

Every day, Asia Gillespie spends more time outside than inside – and she likes it that way.

“I am always moving about outside.” Gillespie said. “Watering plants in the greenhouse, weeding, planting, and transplanting.”

The weather doesn’t stop her, either.

“If it’s pouring outside, I just put on a poncho. Unless there’s lightening, I won’t be going outside in that.” Gillespie said.

Gillespie is getting her master’s degree at SHSU through the SAFE program, which is the Master of Agriculture in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Environment. She works at the SHSU Horticulture Center as a graduate assistant, and a has an internship as the manager for the Bearkat Community Gardens.

“Working at the Horticulture Center, I am applying some of what I have learned from my undergrad in Horticulture at A&M,” Gillespie said. “I decided to pursue this master’s degree because I want to learn how to be an even better steward for the environment than I am now.”

As the manager of the Bearkat Community Gardens, Gillespie helps build the raised beds, put together an informational packet for students and faculty to adopt a bed, and teaches workshops.

“I like community gardens, because it really is all about growing and harvesting relationships.” Gillespie said.

Her first workshop was for the boy scouts who came to get their sustainability badge. Gillespie talked about the importance of composting and how to make compost. For her second workshop, Gillespie spoke to a class of Education majors at SHSU about the importance of nature and incorporating gardening into the school curriculum.

“It’s kinesthetic learning, it involves all the senses. When you’re out in nature you’re seeing things, touching things, smelling things, using your hands and getting them dirty. This teaches students the importance of having nature in their lives.”

Gillespie also believes that students need to know where their food comes from.

“Some people don’t realize that all our food comes from farmers and that they have to grow that food.” Gillespie said.

Gillespie said she is learning a lot from her internship that is preparing her for the future.

“I’ve never even been to a workshop before, and I’ve never taught anything before, so this is all a new experience for me.” Gillespie said.

Gillespie said she got her love for nature from her dad.

“He loves being outdoors. Growing up he would take us to several national parks and state parks. Overtime I started loving nature as well, and now I also love being outdoors.” Gillespie said.

Her dad, Dr. Gillespie, happens to be the Associate Dean of Science at SHSU.

“He influenced me to do a science related degree,” Gillespie said. “Both my dad and my brother got bachelor’s degrees from Sam Houston. It’s almost like a family tradition.”

Gillespie hopes to get a job environmentally related.

“Whether it’s garden design, growing vegetables, herbs or ornamentals in a nursery or a greenhouse. Or even a state park where I could help with conservation, or maybe environmental consultation.” Gillespie said.

Overall, Gillespie enjoys helping the environment and helping people.

“They go hand in hand. When you help people, you’re improving the environment, when your helping the environment, it benefits people.” Gillespie said.

Gillespie’s favorite gardening activity is planting seeds.

“It makes me happy, just taking care of plants and watching them grow,” Gillespie said. “Plants are like people. The soil is the environment we are in, and the watering is like the nourishment that we get. Just give it some love and care, and it will grow.”

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