Her curiosity led her to an 18-year course in horticulture with a bachelor’s degree. She pursued her master’s in plant and plant pathology and worked for six years as an agricultural and natural resource teacher at the Tipkanoe County Extension Office.
“As a student, I spoke openly about the value of plants in our area, which made me think about extension work. Being a county extension teacher gave me the opportunity to continue my education and share that knowledge directly with county residents.
Michelle, who was recently appointed Consumer Gardener Extension Specialist in the Department of Fruit and Landscape Architecture, sees this career change as an exciting opportunity to share her love and knowledge with others. She intends to form a consultative committee with colleagues and industry members, conduct an interest assessment, and lead Purdue Extension in horticultural resources and research.
“At the end of the day, I want to show people the value of plants and the environment. Gardening is not always easy and we often work side by side with nature. My goal is to help homeowners and gardeners understand the overall life cycle of plants and pests, including weeds, so you can make sustainable decisions.
In addition to answering questions from gardeners, Mitchell aims to make extension gardening accessible to all. She hopes to update materials to be mobile-friendly and translate Spanish into other languages. For the first time, she is interested in meeting new homeowners who are learning how to care for their lawns and gardens.
“Purdue Extension is about creating local connections and making it a better place to collaborate with my community. When the horticulture sector saw a change in the mindset of working with nature instead of opposing it, I came here to help Hussein deal with climate change, inclement weather, invasive species and in their backyards.