Celebrating Our Graduates; College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences

To help save the world, Mary Featherstone finds new ways to make it more beautiful


An internship in France along with a passion for anything that sprouts from the soil put this horticulture major on a path to continue a Clemson legacy while growing her own.

Horticulture major Mary Featherstone’s passion for the environment began when she read Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” in high school. This book became the catalyst for Mary’s love of the outdoors because it showed her the potential impact she could make on the environment. Mary carried that spirit into her time at Clemson, excelling in a plant identification course her first year, which inspired and pushed her to make a career out of her dedication to sustainability. But it was a life-changing summer internship through Clemson that put it all in perspective.

Located 45 minutes outside of Paris by train in Giverny, France, is Monet’s Garden. A beloved place for gardeners and tourists looking to explore the inspirations for some of the world’s most famous paintings, this beautiful estate includes the gardens themselves and Monet’s original home. It was also where Mary secured a coveted summer internship. Internships are required for all horticulture majors at Clemson, but Mary’s experience was truly something special. And though Mary was far from the comforts of Clemson’s campus, she quickly learned that Tigers have built a legacy in this rural village over the years.

“The gardeners at Monet’s Garden love having Clemson students because they know we work hard. There was an expectation that we would jump right in and put forth our best effort into being caretakers for this unique place. I loved that, and I believe that’s how it should be.”

Mary Featherstone, horticulture ’23

Even halfway around the world, Mary felt surrounded by her Clemson Family. She remembers seeing a tourist wearing a Clemson hat one day and how it left her with the feeling that she really was part of something bigger.

Two women standing in a green, wooded area are seen talking in the distance. One is older and wearing a straw hat. The other is a younger student.
Horticulture courses like Plant Identification and a coveted internship in France solidified Mary’s passion for nature and long-term goal to someday manage a public garden.

Back home at Clemson, Mary is a student worker at the South Carolina Botanical Garden. Her work there and a class she took with the garden’s director have only reinforced her love of plants. After graduation in May, Mary will participate in Longwood Garden’s professional horticulture program for two years. This program includes classes to train participants and hands-on experience alongside other staff members. Eventually, Mary hopes to work toward managing a public garden, wherever that might take her.

“I love connecting with people and talking to people. One of my favorite things is watching other people get excited about plants because I am excited about plants every single day. I think gardening is where I am going to end up,” she says. “I love having these ideas and knowing that there are jobs out there and that they’re attainable.”