When St. Croix Central senior Jillian Turbeville started a research project on plant systems during her freshman year of high school, little did she know the project would lead her to pursue a degree in agriculture at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls next fall.
"Since I put so much dedication into that project, I eventually found out that I really did enjoy plant systems and how plants grow," Turbeville said. "It sparked interest from there and FFA led me to the employer I have now. By working at his place, I have really been able to explore what horticulture and crop and soil science can offer for students. Having the experience out there, and getting hands on experience, was an amazing part of high school."
Turbeville did so well on the project that she went all the way to nationals and ended up working on the project into her sophomore year at SCC.
For the last three years, Turbeville has been working for Greg Zwald at White Pine Berry Farm in River Falls.
"While working there, I take part in and have done basically everything there is to do on a berry farm," Turbeville said. "I have done everything from weeding to everyday tasks, to learning how to show customers the berries, and learning about how and why plants will do better in certain areas, as well as how to take care of them."
FFA has allowed Turbeville to excel in both agriculture and leadership throughout her high school career, which is the main reason she wanted to join the group in the first place.
When it came to choosing a college to attend after graduating this spring, Turbeville landed on UW-RF because of its agriculture program and the plethora of opportunities for students.
"I would love to explore, through horticulture and crop and soil science, more into plant genetics or plant pathology and looking deeper into creating new plants or innovations," Turbeville said. "I want to make a difference in the world."
For her fellow students at SCC, Turbeville had this to say:
"Don't follow the crowd, follow what you love. Just because everyone else thinks it may be a weird path to go or not the right choice for you, if you really feel like you love it then definitely pursue it," Turbeville said.