MORRISVILLE—As Kara Budinock was helping her father grow beans, pumpkins and cucumbers in the family garden at age 5, little did she know she was planting the seeds of her career.
The annual custom, along with her creative flair, led to bigger things at Morrisville State College where she pursued an interest in floral design and vegetable production through the college’s horticulture programs. At Morrisville, the 22-year-old from Wolcott, a small town in Wayne County, flourished as a student leading many campus projects.
Budinock is among those who graduated during Morrisville State College’s 106th commencement ceremony today. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture business management.
Budinock begins a new venture next. She will travel to Tuscany, Italy, to participate in an internship at Spannocchia, an organic farm that grows vegetables, olives, and grapes and raises livestock.
The three-month internship, which fulfills a requirement for her bachelor’s degree, aligns with her plan to run her own fruit and vegetable farm someday. It also includes learning to speak Italian, educational presentations and bi-monthly field trips to surrounding areas of interest. “This is a great opportunity for me to gain new skills and to meet people from all around the world,” Budinock said. At Morrisville Budinock, who first earned an associate degree in horticulture-floral design, took advantage of every opportunity to broaden her skills. A college-run business enabled her to get involved with annual floral sales and to create showpieces for the Morrisville State College president’s inauguration ceremony and receptions.
She also cultivated an interest in vegetable production, taking various courses while also helping to build a high tunnel for year-round crop growing on campus.
Andrew Underhill gained a wealth of knowledge from a 15-week internship in Germany, returning just days before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business development.
His internship at Erdbeerland Funck Company, a strawberry and asparagus farm, gave him ideas to take back to his family farm, Underhill Farms, in Batavia. He plans to expand the third-generation farm, which sells produce and beef.
“I came back with so many new ideas to implement—different cultivating methods that could help with our strawberry production, for example,” he said. “And I learned a lot about high-tunnels, which can extend the growing season”, said Underhill. Like Budinock and Underhill, many of this year’s graduating students have performed internships that gave them invaluable experience in the competitive job market.
During the ceremony, graduates celebrated alongside family and friends amid a stage adorned with a lavish display of flowers grown by students in the college’s horticulture program and arranged by graduating seniors from the program. MSC President David E. Rogers was joined by Provost Barry Spriggs, school deans and members of the College Council in presiding over the ceremony, which began with the Syracuse Scottish Pipe Band leading graduates into the formal commencement exercises.