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Thomas Murray, C.L.T - Alumni Profile

Please describe your current job position:

I work as a Senior Account Manager and Staff Horticulturist for The Greenery of Charleston. In my current role I manage all of our personnel and maintenance contracts on Daniel Island, design landscape enhancements, head our chemical program, equipment procurement and estimate commercial maintenance projects.

What is the most interesting thing about your job?
The most interesting part of my job would have to be its diversity.  I never know what I will be getting into when I arrive at the office in the morning.  I could be bidding on a new project, instructing crews on proper maintenance techniques, or designing an annual bed.  Between the ever-changing tasks and interesting array of people I get to meet there is always something keeping me on my toes.

How well did the Department of Horticultural Science at NCSU prepare you for your current position?
The NCSU Horticulture Department did an excellent job of preparing me for my current position.  The Landscape Horticulture course requirements, though demanding, covered every aspect of landscape management in some form or fashion.  And there are numerous opportunities available to get out and work with your hands; from classroom design/build projects to summer internship s.

What other horticultural-related jobs did you have prior to your current position?

I started with The Greenery upon graduation from NCSU, however, while in college I worked everywhere from plant nurseries and golf courses to landscape architecture firms, and landscape maintenance and construction companies.  I would recommend that each student experiences as many different Horticultural jobs as possible while in school.  The diversity of my work experience helped me decide where my niche was in this field and played a big part in the career opportunities offered to me upon graduation.

What made the Department of Horticultural Science at NCSU unique?
There is such a diverse group of faculty and students in this department and the one on one approach to teaching is unlike anything else I had experienced while at NCSU.  Meet the professors, explore the atmosphere, and you will understand exactly what I am talking about.  There is always a project in progress somewhere on the grounds, and just walking past the building you know that learning is taking place.

What would you say are the strengths of the Department of Horticultural Science at NCSU?

The landscape design classes within the Department of Horticulture Science at NCSU are unmatched.  While there is a very strong emphasis on the elements of design there is an equally strong emphasis on plant selection and viability, which is not seen in many Landscape Architecture programs.  You will leave with the knowledge to design a sustainable landscape, which surprisingly enough, many people in the industry today do not have the skills to do.  The other strength that sticks out most in my mind is the enthusiasm of the Horticulture Department professors.  It is very difficult to go into a classroom with a professor that is passionate about what they are teaching and not walk away with great knowledge and passion, all your own.

If you received degrees from other departments/universities, how did the experiences differ from the one you had in the Department of Horticultural Science at NCSU?

Though I did not receive a degree in Turf Management I took numerous classes in the turf program and highly recommend this experience to anyone looking to a career in Landscape Management.  I have found one of my biggest assets to be the knowledge of how to properly grow and maintain healthy turf.  You would be surprised at how many landscape professionals cannot identify different turf species in the field.

What words of wisdom/advice would you give students thinking about attending the Department of Horticultural Sciences at NCSU?

My advice is to take advantage of every opportunity available to you while enrolled in The Horticulture Program.  Get involved with the clubs and apply for the internship and scholarship offerings.  In the tough job market students are faced with today the more experience you have to offer the more attractive you become to potential employers.