Cherise Kent is the Green Corps Coordinator at Holden Forest and Gardens, and is passionate about introducing students to environmental science and urban farming in northeast Ohio. Cherise loves helping the students who visit Holden to discover their passions while exploring the natural world.
“It’s really important to be keen on who you are and what opportunities are around you.”
How do you view agriculture as a STEM pathway in northeast Ohio?
One of the things that I’ve been amazed by since joining Holden Forest & Gardens is all of the urban farms that are here, and all of the innovations that go along with them. And I think that like some of the ventures I’m seeing, they very well integrate all components of STEM. They not only are growing things which connect the natural sciences, but they’re creating innovation so that that happens more efficiently. I know people who are building shipping containers that have lights and aquaponics, so that we in Cleveland can be more food secure. If you’re somebody who wants to become a research scientist, there are opportunities in Cleveland so that you can be a plant physiologist or a soil ecologist. If you’re somebody who is not in love with the idea of being at school forever, there’s a two year program at Tri-C, and you can become a landscape technologist, an entrepreneur, and own your own business. There are not only a lot of opportunities in Cleveland, but there are supports to get people there so that they can explore their passions.
How does technology intersect with agriculture?
You can contribute your skills no matter what they are to this field. There are definitely connections, whether you’re tinkering and you’re an engineer creating these systems, or whether you’re somebody who is creating the software and equipment.
What advice do you have for kids exploring their interests today?
We provide lots of tools so that students can explore who they are, and how they want to contribute to the world, and what their interests are. We ask them to reflect on the experiences we’ve had, and they delve into different departments to think about what really sparked their interest, and what made them feel enlivened. And we ask what they did not like. Because that’s really important. I think it’s really important to be keen on who you are and what opportunities are around you.