I am a lover of horticulture, gardening and the environment. At age 8, I sent away for a package of Zinnia seeds for 10 cents and I've been hooked ever since. After 25 years of being self-employed, I retired. That only lasted 4 years and I now work in a water conservation program: I buy grass from homeowners who are willing to convert to desert landscaping and lose that thirsty green stuff. I pursue what interests me and you can blame my sister for getting me into this blogging thing.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Cog in the Wheel

I'm a little cog in a big wheel. All my years of living have given me the experience to do what I do really well. I serendipitously found a job two years ago that uses all my skills. Since I live in the desert where water is a precious commodity, my job is to help people save water. I love to talk. I love to talk about gardening. I get paid to talk about my favorite subject all day. I get to influence how people approach the conversion of their water thirsty yards into beautiful conservation-conscious water smart landscapes. I am very passionate about what I do. This is my perfect job.

This is how I got here. We had lived and worked in the same place all our lives. 10 years ago, I decided it was time for a new life, we should retire to the sun. All our kids had graduated from college and moved to warm climates. What the heck were we doing shoveling snow?

Talk about culture shock, garden shock, isolation shock. The first few months were very lonely. I was a Master Gardener in Indiana so I signed up for the Master Gardener program in Nevada. I was back in my element. I had new friends whose eyes didn't glaze over when I wanted to talk about plants. People from that class 10 years ago are my friends today. I started volunteering to work at the Demonstration Gardens, helping give programs at schools, guiding school children on tours of the gardens, presenting afterschool workshops. I've always thought that you don't know what will motivate a child to become interested in something. Give them the opportunity to experience as much of life as possible. All along the way, I was learning as much as I taught. I took a botany class called Plants of the Southwest Deserts, I worked at horticulture conferences. Anyone I met who worked in horticulture was bound to have me asking if I could visit. I helped out at a revegetation project at a gold mine in California, visited a grower of ornamental grasses in Pomona. 5 friends and I went on an Elderhostel trip to Big Sur to study the flora. We visited 5 botanic gardens as well as the Hearst Castle to see the wonderful grounds. Death Valley became a yearly field trip to see the wildflowers in the spring. I was on a roll. When a botanic garden for Las Vegas became a plan, I participated in plant surveys to harvest native plants for the Las Vegas Springs Preserve. I was soaking up knowledge like a sponge.

After 4 years of retirement, it was no longer fun. I got a job, as an office manager, it was fine. I met a lot of nice people. After 3 years business slowed down and half the staff was laid off. So I was on the street, looking to do something interesting. One Saturday, I was volunteering at the gardens and asked my friend who was the education director to let me know if she heard about any opportunities. She said they were looking for people to work on the Water Smart Landscaping program. I knew about that, I had done the conversion at my house about 4 years earlier. This was right up my alley.

I was hired, the only senior citizen I might add. I get a lot of kidding about my age, those young whippersnappers all give me the business. I've been doing my job for over 2 years now and I couldn't be happier. I think I am influencing what is happening in the Las Vegas Valley one person at a time and I want to do a good job. On average, I speak to around 4 people a day, that's 20 people a week and 1000 people a year. I have more than 4 appointments in a day but some folks aren't home and some folks aren't too interested. So I've had a chance to give information to about 2000 people since I started this job. That's a pretty good number I think. When a letter from a customer comes in praising my help, I know I've done my job well. I am a happy camper. What can be better than that?


Blogger Motherkitty said...

Your job sure beats sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself. You would go crazy if you didn't have anything to do with yourself every day. I've been thinking of getting a part-time job, but I've been too lazy just playing around and swimming this summer -- and going to rehab -- but that's about to end. Then, what will I do with myself.

I say great that you are doing what you are experienced to do and have so much knowledge of. It's the perfect job for you. Even if this job ended tomorrow, you would probably find something interesting to do. I don't know if the money matters (although the money allows you to continue your lifestyle in comfort) -- I think WHAT you do is more important than getting paid for it, don't you think?

August 02, 2006 6:15 AM  
Blogger PEA said...

How wonderful that you can still be doing what you love...all the jobs you've had sound so very interesting and this latest one sounds like it makes you happy so that's all that counts:-) It also has to be a great feeling to know you're helping people understand the area they live in. My youngest son is a Wildlife Biologist and he's in charge of the largest Game Preserve in Ontario...when he talks about his job, you can feel the love he has for it and I love to get him talking about it:-)

August 02, 2006 12:12 PM  
Blogger Alipurr said...

Not much can be better than working in a field where you have so much interest and knowledge. I am sure it must also feel good to know you are doing good for your community and the local ecosystem. Good for you. I am glad that it has worked out this way for you.

August 03, 2006 8:13 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Very interesting! So nice that you have a job you love. Not everyone can say that.

I liked your previous post too!

August 03, 2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Having a meaningful job is like a tonic. It is too bad everyone can't have one.

By the way, years ago I used to go primitive camping in the National Forest above Big Sur. I love it up in those mountains. It is one of the most wonderful places I've been.

August 03, 2006 6:52 PM  
Blogger Franny said...

Sounds like you have found your place, and that is the most valuable thing that most people NEVER find! I am happy that you have found a way to fit in, to share your wisdom, and to bloom in the desert (lol, pun intended!)

I am totally into the xeriscaping, mostly because we neglect our plants to the worst degree! Anything that can survive us can survive anything.

BTW, noticed that you're a gemini too...we're an interesting & creative bunch, don't you think?

August 04, 2006 5:51 AM  
Blogger Mountain Mama said...

The pictures are wonderful. I love the tree.
It is great to have a job you love. Sort of makes getting up in the morning worthwhile.

August 04, 2006 11:38 AM  
Blogger Pam in Tucson said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Although we've lived in the same house since 1964, I've only begun to take an interest in the garden in the past year. I've been reading your blog for some time now, and I'm learning valuable lessons from it. As soon as I retire, I hope to put some of them into practice.

Congratulations on the wonderful job you're doing. It's great to be doing something you love and feeling like you're contributing to other people's lives. I've had two jobs like that (one with an AIDS project and one at the university). It's so rewarding. I hope you continue to feel the joy and exuberance that comes through so beautifully in this post.

August 07, 2006 9:49 PM  

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