Opportunity of a Lifetime: How I Came to be the Manager of a School District Greenhouse in Tok, Alaska

                                    My favorite gardening quote, by Audrey Hepburn

Looking For Direction and Purpose

We’ve all heard of people obtaining their dream job, but finding and getting my own seemed a long shot. Over the course of my adult life thoughts of a dream job often came to mind, especially on those days I dreaded going to work at all, those days I forced myself to get up and show up. When my co-worker said to my sister-in-law, “She just shows up, does her job, and leaves,” I knew it was time to change the mindset I had fallen into, the mindset of always making excuses for staying in miserable situations. Less than a year after that comment, I chose to become unemployed. I could not just show up, do my job, and leave anymore. I began to sincerely search for direction and purpose. I never imagined I would find those things in gardening.

The Right Place at the Right Time

I have been acquainted with gardening since childhood, however, in 2014 I got up close and personal with it. Our school district had a greenhouse with its first season of growth in it, I was in the right place at the right time, and now I garden for a living. An opportunity of a lifetime materialized in a matter of moments and I seized it.

Finding Purpose in a New Direction

I’ve been eager and committed to this new direction, and even though I often feel overwhelmed, I want to keep going.   This new world of observation, problem solving, and growth – and I don’t mean just plant growth – enriches my life. I found purpose here and I’m engaged in important work here. Gardening classes for our students are in the works. I will provide hands on gardening experiences, and aid in sharing knowledge that could help shape future gardeners.

Demonstrating hand pollination to students from Northway School, Fall 2014
      Demonstrating hand pollination to students from Northway School, Fall 2014

Resources and Collaboration

I’ve been privileged to have a close collaboration with my local Nutrition Educator, and to have my employer invest in my gardening education by paying for my Alaska Master Gardener online course. Also, I recently had my site inspected by an Integrated Pest Management technician. All of these services are provided by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension. Already, in the first few weeks of this course, I have realized that these services and the knowledge I’m gaining through them have been and will continue to play a huge role in the success of The Gateway Greenhouse.

An Invitation to Follow My Journey

I hope you have enjoyed learning about my backstory, and please come around again, as I plan to share much more about this journey I am on. Until then…


About Bonnie
Hello, my name is Bonnie Emery and I am the Alaska Gateway School District 'Horticulturist'. I came on board with not much gardening experience, but I am working to educate myself so I can pass the love and know-how of gardening down to our future gardeners.

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