People throughout the country have heard about BYU-Idaho’s horticulture program and its positive reputation, which is why two peer groups came to campus to tour the Thomas E. Ricks gardens.

“A peer group is essentially a group of like-minded companies that come together, they’re usually from different geographic locations so they’re not direct competitors,” Reese Nelson, horticulture professor at BYU-Idaho said.

A reason why the peer groups came to BYU-Idaho is because the students are highly sought after for work. They have high character, their clean, honest and their skills help make them marketable, he said.

He shared how the Applied Plant Science Department enjoys placing their students close to people in the horticulture industry.

Each peer group had between 10-15 companies. Students were able to interact with them and participate in some of their additional meetings.

Nelson conducted the tours and was able to share with them information about their gardening and department philosophies and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“They really appreciated the fact that we’re a hands on department,” he said.

He explained how the department will teach about pruning trees, and then they’ll go out and prune trees in the garden.

“It’s an outdoor laboratory for us, to hone our hands-on skills,” he said.

The department tries to teach the benefit of being outdoors. Nelson used the metaphor of the outdoors being like a prescription that you can’t get at a pharmacy. People feel better when they are in nature, he said.

“It’s not just for beauty, it’s also for renewal and psychological restoration,” he said.

Rexburg has a colder climate, which can make it difficult for those with a green thumb.

“True gardeners recognize that you can be successful wherever you’re at,” he said. “The philosophy is the same, you just have to have a couple of tools and you can be successful.”

Nelson encourages everyone, “Get out there and enjoy the gardens!”