Combining Passion with Professionalism: Alumna Begins Working at Longwood Gardens
Delaware Valley University alumna, Olivia Wyckoff ’22, is thrilled to combine her passion for all things floral with her professional career as she partakes in a year-long internship at Longwood Gardens just months after graduating. A botanical garden that consists of over 1,000 acres in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens is often described by its visitors as stunningly beautiful, and Wyckoff seems to agree.
“At Longwood Gardens I’m the conservatory intern, so I work primarily with tropical plants in the conservatory,” Wyckoff explains. She helps with watering, maintaining, grooming, and switching out various plants when needed.
“I actually get to live here as well, which has been a really great experience,” says Wyckoff. Living in a house located on the garden’s grounds with one other Longwood Gardens student, Wyckoff feels lucky to be immersed in this beautiful location. “It’s not just a place I come to work every day. I am constantly surrounded by horticulture and plant science. It’s just great,” she affirms.
Horticulture and plants have been a large part of Wyckoff’s life for many years. She grew up on her family’s Christmas tree farm in Belvidere, New Jersey, where she helped sell Christmas trees during the peak holiday season.
“My interest in florals was definitely rooted in my growing up on the farm. You don’t think much of it when you’re younger, but when I got to DelVal and it was time to choose a career path, I realized I really did have an interest in agriculture. All of my interests went back to plant science, so I buckled down and that’s the route I chose to take,” she notes.
For Wyckoff, finding the college experience that was perfect for her was quite the journey. “I actually went to two different schools during my freshman year before ending up at DelVal. When I came here, I loved it so much I stayed all four years,” she explains.
During her time at DelVal, Wyckoff double majored in horticulture and agribusiness and was involved in many aspects of campus life including Horticulture Society, Floral Society, and Sigma Alpha, which were just a few of her favorite clubs and organizations on campus. Another aspect of DelVal that Wyckoff truly enjoyed was the University’s Experience360 program (E360), which combines classroom learning with hands-on, real-world experiences.
Every student at DelVal gains real-world experience before graduation as e360 is a significant part of the University’s curriculum. As part of Wyckoff’s E360, she started her own small business, Farm Girl Florals, in the summer of 2021. “It’s a flower farming floristry. So, I planted my own flowers and I had a cute little retail store on the farm where I grew up, and I dedicated my summer to that,” she explains.
Farm Girl Florals is still in operation today, as Wyckoff focuses less on retail and more on weddings and events. “Since I have a full-time job at Longwood Gardens, it was difficult to run retail this season, but I am continuing to gather more clients for weddings and events and am already planning ahead for 2024,” she notes.
“I definitely think that starting my own business as part of my E360 prepared me for life after graduation. I’m happy I got to do it while still in school because it really helped me get my foot in the door of this industry and prepared me for all of the weddings and other events I have coming up,” Wyckoff adds.
As Wyckoff continues to operate her floristry business while completing her full-time internship at Longwood Gardens, she is grateful that many of the classes she took at DelVal prepared her for what she’s doing now. “A lot of the classes I took align with what I’m learning here at Longwood. Taking all of that information I learned at DelVal and applying it in the field has really helped me out. DelVal prepared me for that hands-on experience and reinforcing everything I’ve already learned.”
And learn more about majoring in horticulture and agribusiness!