Leveling the Field
Director of sales and marketing, Spring Creek Growers in Waller
irchner’s parents started a Christmas tree farm 27 years ago, so she grew up surrounded by agriculture. (The family runs both the tree farm and a commercial nursery, which they started in 2004, under the name Spring Creek Growers.) Despite this, she envisioned a career for herself in corporate America. After earning a business degree from Baylor University, Kirchner says, “I was on the top floor of a bigtime office building overlooking downtown and after a year I had had enough.” As Kirchner’s father’s business took off, she noticed that he was still doing it all, so she offered to help. “He took me out for one day of field training, and that was pretty much it,” she said. “I didn’t have any plans to come into the industry, but it’s now been 10 years.” Initially, many people viewed Kirchner as “Bob’s daughter” rather than a professional in her own right, but that impression has lessened over time.
TNLA Green May/June 2019
Working on the wholesale side, Kirchner sees other women working in property management, on landscape crews, or as account managers — roles women hadn’t traditionally held. “I sell seasonal color, and women are turning more into the buyers of seasonal color,” she says. “Women seem to have a natural eye for color palettes and color wheels. It’s been a nice trend to see as more women buyers come into play.” For young women who want to break into the green industry, Kirchner encourages them to know their stuff. “That probably goes with any industry,” she says. “As a woman coming in there, you have to prove yourself before you get the job.” She recommends pursuing internship opportunities and attending career fairs and local TNLA events. On the other hand, Kirchner believes the green industry could do more outreach to children so they see it as a potential career path. “None of my friends knew that agriculture or commercial horticulture is even a career option,” she says. “We really need to be going into the schools more.” For instance, landscaping professionals could help at elementary school gardens or speak in home economics courses. “[Many people] think of landscaping as the guy mowing the lawn once a week,” she says. “It’s so much more than that. It’s beautiful and there are wellness benefits.”
g “As a woman cominto in there, you have e prove yourself befor you get the job.”