Benjamin Snyder: Learning by doing

Benjamin Snyder graduated with a degree in Horticulture from Temple University.

Horticulture major Benjamin Snyder didn’t just “Fly in Four.” He flew in 3.5, completing his degree at Temple University a full semester early.

Graduating in December 2016, Snyder has already arrived at his next stop and he didn’t have to go far to get far. He is now the full-time Greenhouse Horticulturist at the Temple University Ambler Campus Greenhouse.

“It couldn’t have been a more natural transition. I am convinced that my Temple education has thoroughly prepared me to fulfill this responsibility well,” said Snyder. “I’ll be overseeing the academic side of horticulture at Temple Ambler, coordinating with professors for use of the greenhouse, food crops garden, research garden, botanical traditions garden. I’ll also be working closely with the team that selects and prepares the plants for Temple’s Philadelphia Flower Show exhibits.”

Snyder said his passion for plants has been a driving interest for as long as he can remember.

“My parents have five acres of land so I was always active outside. They also had a small greenhouse and about 400 tropical plants — there’s a 12-foot-tall grapefruit tree they’re still trying to figure out how to get out of the house,” he said. “I was still in high school when I started looking for horticulture schools. With the design and identification classes and hands-on opportunities, I knew Temple was the right choice and with Temple Ambler and the Ambler Arboretum, you really can’t beat the setting.”

Snyder recalled first touring the Ambler Campus with his parents.

“The gardens and arboretum were so beautiful. The thought of learning in this environment was exciting — I remember being envious of the spacious greenhouse,” he said. “We saw an older gentleman tending that greenhouse, and I can distinctly recall my parents saying, ‘Maybe you can apply for his job when he retires.’ Well, four years later, I am the new Temple Ambler Greenhouse Horticulturist!”

His many horticulture courses laid “a strong foundation upon which I can build my future,” said Snyder.

“We apply what we learn in the classroom by getting hands-on working with the plants. All of it is applied education, which has given me the confidence and the practical knowledge necessary to meet new challenges,” he said.  “I especially valued the identification classes that helped to broaden my love of all plants. The availability of directed study courses makes any area of horticultural interest a possibility — my directed study focus was the campus woodland garden.”

Work study opportunities provided Snyder practical working skills within the horticulture lab and the greenhouse, he said. He was also given the opportunity to take part in research on the phytotoxicity of surfactant with Associate Professor of Horticulture Dr. Michael Olszewski.

“At Temple Ambler, you’re not taking an art history class with 350 other students in a lecture hall. You get to know your professors and they know you and care about your success,” he said. “All learning is important. Some of the general education classes may not seem directly related to your field, but in the long-term, many of the core principles learned in these classes are essential to all fields and disciplines.”

Snyder said the hard work and dedication he applied inside and outside of the classroom as a student will now be used to further the mission of the campus and the University and support the education and research of its students and faculty.

“Being a member of the Temple staff requires the same type of skills. I never wanted to be a commercial grower cultivating a thousand geraniums,” he said. “I love the diversity here — there’s always something new here, something different, something challenging. My ultimate goal as a professional? I’m already there.”