For Donna Aufdenberg, gardening and horticulture is not only her profession, it is her passion.
“This is a great hobby for me because it allows me to practice what I preach and to try new gardening techniques and plant varieties that I can recommend on the job. Gardening is not only my career, but it is my hobby too,” she says.
Donna, a 1999 graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, earned a degree in agriculture with an emphasis in horticulture. She is the regional horticulture specialist and master gardener coordinator with the University of Missouri Extension in Cape Girardeau County.
In addition to her job, Donna has also started her own small business.
I have started a small greenhouse operation, filling a niche market for heirloom tomato transplants in the local area. I am hoping to increase the size of the operation in coming years,” she says.
Donna says that the most rewarding part of her profession is simply helping and teaching people. She receives many calls about gardening dilemmas from clients wanting information on how to do something or about a certain plant variety.
“I also enjoy teaching classes on gardening and teaching Master Gardener classes,” she says. “Teaching adults is rewarding for me because they have such a desire to learn and absorb as much as they can so they can, go home and implement what they have been taught.
“Southeast helped prepare me for my career by providing a good foundation of education in a broad array of topics. The education that I received also gave me the desire to learn more and further my education by obtaining a master’s degree,” she says.
Donna adds that her secret to success is always having a dream to work toward, good work ethic and determination.
“Another part of success is having an open mind and realizing there is still so much to learn every day,” she says.
Donna and her husband, Don, live in Jackson, Mo. They have twin girls, Kaitlyn and Lauren.
“They are a blessing and enjoyment to every day of our lives,” Donna says of her daughters.
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