Ilea Howard is completing an internship with UW Botanic Gardens this summer. She is a student at Oregon State University where she’s majoring in sustainability and horticulture. The internship, which runs June through August, will provide her with credit hours and experience trying new things, such as driving a tractor!
Before starting work each day, Ilea puts on her work pants and sturdy hiking boots. She gathers equipment for a bucket she carries with her including a mat, water bottle, radio and various tools. Then she heads out to tackle the task of the day.
Ilea has received training on how to operate several landscaping machines. In addition to driving the tractor, which she used to transfer mulch to another site, Ilea used a flame thrower on weeds growing in gravel. She used a chainsaw to cut down a six foot tall tree, which she described as “smooth as cutting through butter.” And she used a giant chipper to break down tree debris.
At the Washington Park Arboretum and Center for Urban Horticulture, Ilea has been working on maintenance, caring for garden plantings and removing weeds. An orange tabby has been a welcoming presence at the Arboretum and complements the supportive staff and community who work with interns.
At the UW Farm, Ilea’s been planting vegetables, including radish seeds and baby lettuce. Squash, rainbow chard, and lettuce are some of the vegetables she’s helped harvest. Ilea says the farm has been a fun atmosphere and it’s been rewarding to work outside.