Angelica Werth, junior Horticulture and Spanish double major, spent spring 2018 interning at the Cordoba Botanical Gardens while studying abroad in Argentina.
Werth had always wanted to visit Argentina since she was a child and when she learned Clemson had a program there, it was an easy choice to fulfill the study abroad requirement for her dual degree in Spanish.
“Very few people there speak English, which forces you to dramatically improve your Spanish and increase retention rates,” Werth said. “It always seemed to me to be a beautiful and culture-rich country.”
During her five months abroad, Werth worked closely with the director of the Aromatic and Medicinal Plants and Herbs and Spices, Barbara Barcena, cementing her love for horticulture as a student of Ellen Vincent, adjunct assistant professor of plant and environmental sciences at Clemson University.
“I did three main things there. First, I helped to maintain the zone with weeding and pruning,” Werth said. “Secondly, I participated in several classes which were part of a course Barcena teaches, aimed at unemployed adults and college students; the course focused on native plants, ecological conservation in an urban environment, and propagation. Third, I accompanied Barcena on a few guided visits with elementary and middle-school groups of students through the garden, talking about plant functions and specific plants, in a level appropriate to the age of the students.”
One of 39 gardens in Argentina, Cordoba Botanical Gardens celebrated 20 years in 2017 and is dedicated to conservation and preservation of the natural environment.
“The biggest difference between horticulture in Argentina and horticulture in the United States is that Argentina uses much less fertilizer. It’s definitely a more organic approach to gardening,” Werth remarked. “However, most practices regarding maintenance and propagation seemed fairly similar.”
Vincent commented on her student’s achievements both in and out of the class room.
“Angelica is a fearless yet quiet leader in the classroom,” said Vincent. “She steps up to contribute during group work and manages to accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time. She is an accomplished critical thinker—making deep relevant connections and scholarly investigations in her writing. She also is a champion for environmental sustainability and social justice. She is certain to make a positive impact on her surroundings. Her journey to Argentina also captures her courage and curiosity as an intellectual explorer.”
The entire experience for Werth showed her different horticultural practices outside of her learning experience at Clemson and helped her realize the desire to work in a botanical garden full-time one day, even possibly opening her own.
“This opportunity changed my overall perspective on the world and opened my eyes to new cultures, allowing me to look with a fresh perspective at my own life,” Werth said. “At the end, I felt as though I had grown academically, professionally and personally. And I would go back in a heartbeat; it’s a beautiful country full of wonderful people, and I learned so much. I would definitely go back.”
Werth has been the recipient of the J.W. Jones Presidential Scholarship for three years, a merit-based scholarship made possible by the philanthropy of the late Dr. Jess Williard Jones, class of 1937.
“I am deeply grateful for the J.W. Jones Presidential Scholarship because it allowed me the financial freedom to be able to continue my education and improve my future prospects,” Werth said.
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