Taylor Hollaway, working with the University of Nevada, Reno Experiment Station’s Desert Farming Initiative, recently completed a farming internship in order to complete his bachelor’s degree in horticulture.
Applying through University of Nevada, Reno Extension, Hollaway worked with Charles Schembre, project manager of the Initiative, and Jill Moe, education program coordinator, to learn the fundamentals of organic vegetable farming operations. Over the course of five months, he had a hand in overseeing the crops and worked on several projects, including monitoring irrigation damage from wildlife intrusion and pest infestations. He also assisted with the Spark’s United Methodist Church Farmers Market, harvesting and packaging crops, and creating marketing materials for the events.
The Initiative began in 2013 and is supported by the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources’ academic, Experiment Station and Extension units. The Initiative is a commercial farm that serves as a demonstration, education, outreach and research farming program.
Hollaway, who grew up in Reno, is an Air Force veteran and a graduate of Oregon State University, where he completed his Bachelor of Science in horticulture. While serving, Hollaway read “A Sand County Almanac” by Aldo Leopold, which sparked his fascination with how human interaction affects natural and beneficial ecosystems, such as organic farms. After completing the internship, he continued to work with Schembre on a sustainable planting plan to boost farm biodiversity and reduce crop exposure to pathogens and other harmful contaminants.
“The entire staff that I was exposed to was great to work with, especially Charles and Jill,” Hollaway said. “You can truly see their passion for this industry by the way they care for and think about this farm. It’s a growing small farm that provides great opportunities and crop data for regional growers and junior agrarians for the Reno community and beyond. I couldn’t be more pleased with my experience.”
Hollaway, who graduated in December, plans to use and expand on the knowledge he gained during his internship by continuing in the field of organic agriculture, and learning more about making local food more available and sustainable in his community. Learning the fundamentals of farm management has given him imperative skills to continue his career in agricultural science.
“Taylor became an integral part of the team during the peak season months and contributed to the success of our crop production, at large. His passion for learning and understanding horticulture and crop production is evident in his attention to detail and the quality of his work,” said Schembre. “Our farming program offers a very unique opportunity in learning how to farm many crops in the high desert, a learning experience hard to find anywhere else.”