Congratulations Graduates!

Undergraduates practicing for PLANET competition

Undergraduates practicing for PLANET competition

Congratulations to our Graduates!
The end of the semester always brings a fresh set of students finishing their career at NC State and making their way in the world. We wish this group best wishes for a bright future! See the group of graduating undergraduates and graduate students here!

Undergraduate Graduates for December 2013

Thomas Michael Batts
James Ethan Bridges
Christian Randolph Britt
Jonathan Wayne Currin
Kurtis Craig Durrant
Don Raymond Edwards
Blair A. Lane
Matthew Vernon Leary
Nicole Theresa Lewis
Keith Albert Lukowski
Justin Miles Maness
Stanton Parker McDuffie
Mason C. McNair
Caitlin Iris Miller
Whitney Duncan Phillips
Kimberly May Shearer
Timothy Aric Weiler
Amanda Michelle Wilkins
Worth E. Williams

Undergraduate Certificate Graduates

Jerry Lane Cloninger
Rodney “Pete” Franklin Pearce
John Robert Suggs

Agricultural Institute Graduates

Joshua D. Jackson
James Robert Konowski
Christian Gregory Lonnecker
Tiffany Minjarez
Edward Alton Owens
Michael Dean Sizemore
Graham Lee Walker



Ms. Jamie Mikaela Anderson, Dr. Helen Kraus, Advisor


Ms. Xiaolin Huang (In Absentia) – Ms. Julieta Sherk, Chair
Sustainable Residential Design:  An Aesthetic, Environmental, and Area Use Assessment and Evaluation

Ms. Biaofei Jiang (In Absentia) – Ms. Julieta Sherk, Chair
Street Tree Planting Methods & the Impact on the Quality of the Streetscape: A Case Study in Downtown Raleigh

Ms. Dana R. Reynolds (In Absentia) – Dr. Lucy Bradley, Chair
Planting the Seed of a Children’s Garden

Ms. Michelle A. Rose – Ms. Anne Spafford, Chair
Valuing the Residential Landscape: Comparison of Selected Ecosystem Service Benefits between Conventional and Sustainable Design


Mr. Jared G. Barnes – Dr. Paul Nelson and Dr. Brian Whipker, Co-chairs
Quantifying the Factors that Influence Root Substrate pH

Ms. Connie Landis Fisk (In Absentia) – Dr. Mike Parker and Dr. Penny Perkins-Veazie, Chair and Vice-chair
Effect of Orchard Management Practices on Peach Tree Growth, Yield, and Soil Ecology

Ms. Suzanne O’Connell – Dr. Nancy Creamer, Chair
Short-term Nitrogen Mineralization and Soil Microbial Response to the Incorporation of Warm-season Cover Crops in Organic Farming Systems

Mr. Steven M. Todd (In Absentia) – Dr. Craig Yencho, Chair
Application of Near-infrared Spectroscopy to Study Inheritance of Sweetpotato Composition Traits

A Rising Phoenix is Professor’s Swan Song

Phoenix Rising being lifted to ring

Phoenix Rising being lifted to ring

Describing why students in his landscape design studio design and create bamboo sculptures each semester, horticultural science Professor Will Hooker recently said,  “The reason I have the students build the sculptures is that the majors in the class are in a design/build curriculum, and I’ve wanted them to have a building experience as part of their education.”

This past October, as Hooker prepared to retire at the end of fall semester after 34 years in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, he led his students in one more such experience — crafting an appropriately avian-themed sculpture as the swan song project under Hooker’s direction.

“Phoenix Rising” is the bamboo creation taking wing majestically in front of the new home of the Gregg Museum of Art & Design. The museum, moved from the old Talley Student Center, is being reborn, like a phoenix from its ashes, in the building that was once the Chancellor’s Residence on Hillsborough Street.

Hooker’s students assembled the piece at Kilgore Hall, home of the CALS Department of Horticultural Science, before transporting it to the Gregg, where a bucket truck was used to hoist the piece in the air and hang it by cable from a high tree limb. Once installed, the orange, red, blue and yellow phoenix soared skyward as its vibrantly trailing tail swirled down and appeared to loop around the walk leading to the Gregg.

The original design of the phoenix was done by student Michelle Ye, with fellow student Ben Jones designing the archway created by the tail.

Hooker also shared feedback he received from the class about what they learned during the creation of the phoenix. And, certainly, their comments indicate that they had the kind of building experience he intended.

One student reported that among the important lessons he learned during the project were “translating a concept into drawings that help people understand its construction, organization and communication — how to let people know what needs to be done when you’re not there to explain it; where to compromise complexity of the details for speed; always remembering to take a step back and think about the big picture; having faith that it can be done and keeping your team motivated.”

Another told Hooker that “having never worked with bamboo, at the designing phase of the project I was like, ‘This is impossible to make.’ But it all came together so quickly and smoothly. I’m so glad to have had other people there who were familiar with the material who helped make decisions with me on what to make first, what techniques to use, etc. It was definitely challenge after challenge, but I think it ended up really helping me grow personally, because, with the tight deadline, I had to make decisions and go forward.”

Meanwhile, a third student said, “I always get too critical about things I could have done better. But this project is something that I can really be happy with because we all came together and made it happen. It’s definitely one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life. Thank you for helping out and giving me advice!”

Previous studio sculptures, each more whimsical and/or complex than the last, have been installed by Hooker’s students at the JC Raulston Arboretum, the N.C. State Fairgrounds, local elementary schools and numerous regional gardens and public areas.

And in assessing this, his last bamboo creation as professor, Hooker said something that really applies to each — and to his time at N.C. State: “It all came along beautifully.”

– Terri Leith

Watch the Phoenix Rise!

Participants in building the sculpture:

Class members:

Michelle Ye               Ben Jones                  Mercy Rognstad
Leena McDonald      Charles Parrish III       Katherine Hoke
Dorian Perez             Will Edwards             Ken Jackson
Brandon DuPree       Austin Roland            Anisley Mumford
Nathyn Levin             Jay Pulley


Kate VanVorst          Lauren Kapustick     Rocio Arguijo
Yovania Veeren        Wilfred Goli              Sasha Ghofrani
Anne Spafford          Julie Sherk               Emily Kleinhenz
Michael Edwards     Justin Durango         Christian Britt
Regan Hale              Vann Fussell             Paula Gordon
Griffin Foster            Ryan Hirtz                 Madison Savage
Jason Massey         Jessica Mayo            Sean D’Sonza
Jeana Myers           Eli Hooker                  Justin Maness
Adam Williams        Chris Williams            Robert Bradley
Mark Davin             Rodney Jones

Bryce Lane Celebrates A Vibrant Career

Bryce showing off his office brimming with balloons to celebrate his retirement. Balloons were snuck in by undergrads in the Hort Club

Bryce showing off his office brimming with balloons to celebrate his retirement. Balloons were snuck in by undergrads in the Hort Club

Bryce Lane joined the Department of Horticultural Science in 1981 and became the Undergraduate Coordinator in 1987. In 2013 he decided to retire, leaving a hole in the department that will be challenging to fill. He has touched many students’ lives in positive ways. A true passion for teaching and students – this is the only way to describe Bryce’s teaching career.  He has a wonderful ability to meet a student where they are and travel with them as they advance their horticultural studies and careers.  More students than can be counted have begun a lifetime in horticulture after taking one of Bryce Lane’s courses.

During his 32 years of teaching in the department, Bryce taught in both the 2-year program (Plant ID and Landscape Maintenance) and the 4-year program (Home Horticulture, Principles of Horticulture, Power of Plants, Horticulture: Careers and Opportunities, Indoor Plantscapes: Identification and Use, and Garden Center Management).  As if this diverse array of classes wasn’t enough of an accomplishment, he also lead over 36 field trips, including locations in this state and country, six additional countries, and on three different continents.  He also advised the Horticulture Club and the PLANET (ALCA) Student Career Days team.  Bryce’s reach to gardening enthusiast extended to Saturday afternoons as he shared his love of gardening and plants in his Emmy award winning show, In the Garden with Bryce Lane.

To say he will be missed is an understatement! In retirement, Bryce plans to spend time with his wife, Sue, daughters and sons-in-law, and five grandchildren. He will also begin a new chapter in his life as a professional garden speaker. We are sure that he will be very successful and hope that he enjoys some free time.

– H. Kraus

Living Green at Kilgore Hall


Student rendering of Kilgore Hall green roof










When Ben Jones chose the roof of Kilgore Hall as the site for a Bio. and Ag. engineering assignment to design a system for mitigating storm water runoff,  little did he know that he would uncover some surprising information at the office of the university architect. The original plans for Kilgore Hall from 1952, hand drafted and decorated with small pencil smears, showed the structural strength for a fourth floor – or the possibility of a green roof.

Ben followed an older gentleman to the document storage area, which looked like a cross between the movie office space and the ancient library at Alexandria. Rolls of blueprints and old binders stretched from the teal carpet floor to the foam board drop ceiling.  The dusty plans for Kilgore Hall showed the load bearing capacity of 90 pounds per square foot. This is enough strength to hold approximately 9 inches of saturated and vegetated mineral soil with a small group of people wandering about. The building was built with the capability to easily add a fourth floor and while the original vision was to provide additional space for experimentation and learning, a new space may come to fruition, albeit in a way never imagined by its originators.

With thoughts of green roofs dancing in his mind, Ben met with a member of campus facilities on the roof to take some photos. Although repairs have been made to the roof, the majority of it dates back to 1987 and the time for a complete replacement rapidly approaches. It became immediately apparent that something serendipitous was rising to the surface. If the roof was to be replaced and a large sum of money was to be spent no matter what, it might be a ripe opportunity to put forward plans for a green roof or the structural potential on the rooftop would be buried under hot rubber for another 20-30 years.

Student graphic showing the possibilities of a green roof on Kilgore Hall's roof

Student graphic showing the possibilities of a green roof on Kilgore Hall’s roof

Ben shared his dream to Horticultural Science design faculty member, Anne Spafford.  They knew that there were as many reasons to be hesitant about a green roof as there were to be excited. Even without the need for structural reinforcement, the upfront costs are intimidating and the long-term benefits are hard for most to visualize.  But they also knew Kilgore Hall was not just any building and its inhabitants are the kind of people who could make this work, and work fantastically. Eventually, Anne suggested they harness student creativity and energy by making this design a special project for her Planting Design class this Fall semester. Ben also happened to be her teaching assistant, and as a relentless green roof nerd, he enthusiastically agreed.  Giving the students a lecture on green roof design and leading them through a site analysis for the roof, the project began.  The views of campus and Hillsborough Street are striking from that unusual vantage point.  Ben describes the experience, “We were all drawn to interact with the treetops around the perimeter. Most people don’t get the chance to stand among the high canopy leaves of old oaks, loblolly pines, cypress, and magnolias. So we all relished those moments. My favorite place was beneath the outstretched “fingertips” of the magnolia on Kilgore Hall’s South East corner. The leaves are morphologically different at the tree’s upper limits; smaller, curled, and thicker to withstand the intensity of unimpeded sunlight. The tree reached just a few feet over the edge of the roof’s parapet wall and glimpses of the phytotron peaked through the foliage.”

The students wandered, measured, photographed, and joked as they recorded what they saw. For all of its great perspective and solitude around the fringe, the roof was still a sweltering black desert of tar, patchy rubber, and the more than occasional lifeless metal protuberance. The only thing even resembling life on the roof itself was the very faint but unrelenting hum of ventilation fans. The objective was to draw their attention to the disheartening waste that the roof represented. Instead of exposing our building to extreme radiation and heat, it is possible to dramatically reduce the temperature and protect the roof membrane from the sun, while at the same time growing beautiful plants and reducing surface water runoff and the associated negative impacts on our watershed. The students recognized this as a very unique opportunity for them to not only learn, but to create something of significance that would have a restorative and enriching effect for all involved.

After the lecture and touring the roof, the 13 students spent two weeks researching, designing, and composing their individual designs with the goal of presenting to members of the department. There are considerable obstacles that need to be navigated before a green roof on Kilgore Hall can become a reality. The hope for the student project’s was not to create anything final but rather to represent a range of potential options through creative exploration and honest communication with the department as a whole. “We want to create something that is an asset to our department,” Ben shared. “Many of the designs focused on how a multipurpose roof garden could support a very wide reaching array of people and causes. When given visual tools people can see the potential to attract new students, provide opportunities for research and interdepartmental collaboration, save money in the long term, support our campus’ vision for sustainability, and create a special place for people to enjoy.” Many people do not know it but the international green roof industry has been growing steadily every year for decades and the need for plant trials and technological innovation in the United States is here. For instance, NC’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources has a substantial framework of engineering requirements for green roofs published in a series of documents but does not have scientifically backed information to aid in the selection of plants, which can make or break a green roof project. Research at NC State could fill that void for our state and even all of the South East.

Everyone’s input is extremely valuable in a process like this, and that was very evident as the students presented their ideas and conversations bubbled to the surface throughout the room. Some departmental faculty members raised concerns regarding access, liability, cost, and maintenance, but were also very supportive and had many great ideas about how this could be a big success. The hypothetical roof garden was energizing people and bringing students and faculty together around a common purpose where everyone had a voice. It may be a while before a plan that everyone can agree upon is reached and a while after that before it becomes a reality. The first steps have been taken, however, to ensure that this department knows what it has. Sometimes motivating oneself to plant the seeds can be the most difficult part of gardening. Then, as you watch them grow you become invested and see what you couldn’t see before. These designs are the seeds and Ben and Anne hope to have a beautiful, productive garden for all growing above the heads of Kilgore Hall.

Any additional inquiries about the roof and or the design project can directed to Ben Jones ( or Anne Spafford (



Horticultural Science Undergraduate Programs Update

NC State Horticultural Science Fall Field Trip to Charleston, SC - October 2012

NC State Horticultural Science Fall Field Trip to Charleston, SC – October 2012











The Undergraduate program in Horticultural Science continues to be one of the finest programs in the nation. We currently have 120 students in our four-year bachelors program and 25 students in our two-year Ornamental and Landscape Technology (OLT) Agricultural Institute Program. Among the three concentrations in the four-year program, 76% are in the General Concentration, 27% in Landscape Design Concentration, and 10% in the Science Concentration. As we face the challenge of reduced enrollments, we are implementing new recruitment activities to increase awareness and inform prospective students about the many opportunities for a fulfilling horticulture career. Although Ornamental horticulture is still popular, more entering students are interested in fruits and vegetables. Thankfully, our program still offers a wealth of courses related to edible crops. Unlike many sister institutions, we still have individual courses in Tree Fruit, Small Fruit, Vegetables, Viticulture, Permaculture, and Post Harvest Physiology. Combined with our strong emphasis in the ornamental and landscape area, our program offers a comprehensive applied and/or basic education in all areas of horticulture.

In spite of our reduced enrollments, our courses are highly populated. We have more students minoring in Horticultural Science than ever before, and our new undergraduate certificate in Horticultural Science serves many students who just want to learn more about gardening. Students can pursue the certificate both on-line and face-to-face. Our “Home” course series has expanded from a couple of courses to a menu of interesting opportunities including Home Horticulture, Home Plant Propagation, Home Landscape Maintenance, Home Food Production, and Home Landscape Design.

Our courses continue to be taught by award winning faculty committed to providing the best horticultural education possible. We recently added two new teaching faculty, Lis Meyer and Lee Ivy. Lis is coordinating our undergraduate certificate, and teaching many of our service courses face-to face and distance education (DE). In addition to helping with student recruiting, Lis is also teaching Plant Propagation in the two–year program. Lee Ivy is teaching numerous courses in the two-year program including Landscape Maintenance, Food Production, Diseases and Weeds, Orientation and teaches DE and face-to-face service courses in our four-year program. He is also heading up the advising of the PLANET Team with Lis Meyer and Barbara Fair. Lee has recently been named the Coordinator of our two-year OLT program and is helping with student recruitment.

Our program is facing significant change as we lose three faculty members to retirement. Collectively, these three individuals have contributed over 90 years to the department! Dr. Frank Blazich who has taught Plant Propagation in both the two and four-year programs retired last year. Frank was a faculty member in our department for well over 30 years. Will Hooker and Bryce Lane are also retiring January 1, 2014. Will taught in the Landscape Design Concentration for over 30 years and was responsible for growing it into the nationally recognized program that it is. Will also introduced Permaculture into the Horticulture curriculum and his course became a popular course for students from all over campus. Bryce Lane joined the department 32 years ago as a teacher in the four and two-year programs. He became the Department Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator in 1987 and has served in that role to date.  He served as a PLANET adviser for 20 years and advised the Horticulture Club. Bryce has hosted a gardening television show on UNC TV for eleven years. The show “In the Garden With Bryce Lane” produced at NC State has won two regional Emmy awards for Instructional/Informational programing.

The new Undergraduate Coordinator will be Dr. Helen Kraus, who has been teaching in the department for over 10 years, and is ready to lead the growth of the program in the future.

The Departmental student organizations continue to be vibrant and active. Our Horticulture Club meets regularly and participates in many activities that serve both the department and the community. The Fall Field Trip continues to be a popular activity each year. Last year they spent four days in the Charleston, SC area. The honorary fraternity Pi Alpha Xi (PAX) continues to offer two plant sales a year. With the help from the Horticulture Club, PAX raises significant funds used to support travel, department projects, charities, and many projects that promote horticulture. The PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) Team continues to be very active. Since 1990 students have raised funds and traveled to the event and competition every year. PLANET Student Career Days is held at a different host school each year across the nation. Students have the opportunity to learn about the industry, network for jobs and internships, meet other horticulture professionals and compete in a “horticulture Olympics” of sorts.

Undergraduate education in Horticultural Science at NC State is alive and well, poised to meet the challenges of the future. Anything you can do to be an ambassador of the program would be appreciated. There are awesome career opportunities in horticulture and we need to work together to encourage prospective students to learn about horticulture right here at NC State!

-B. Lane