Olivia Dias knows there are no limits to what you can do when you work with plants. As Manager of the Children’s Garden at Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City, she tells us:
“Horticulture is important because it affects everyone. Whether you are improving the aesthetics of a public garden, creating floral arrangements for customers’ loved ones, designing landscapes for companies and residential areas, or producing crops to feed your community, you are exposing people to benefits and outcomes of horticulture. This field is an art as well as a science, and without it our lives would be drastically different.”
Choosing to dedicate her career to connecting horticulture to children and adults of all ages is why Joel Bramhall nominated Olivia as a Seed Your Future Horticulture Hero. He was excited to share that Olivia recently launched "Summer Celebration Series" – a mini-festival sequence occurring monthly that features a nature-based topic such as pollinators, insects, weather and conservation. Building a remarkable list of partnerships, including The National Weather Museum and Science Center, Central Oklahoma Beekeepers Association, The Nature Conservancy, Okies for Monarchs, The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden, and Oklahoma State University’s Insect Adventure, Joel is impressed that Olivia constantly “…works to propel the next generation towards the pursuit of horticultural career paths.”
Olivia is proud to work with the team at Myriad Botanical Gardens to host over 100 educational programs each year, including numerous festivals and public events every week that brings their community together. What makes Olivia, and the Myriad Garden unique is that they are the only botanical garden in the U.S. to host a public school on their grounds. Called “Garden Groundbreakers,” their team meets with sixth grade students once a week to teach them about a horticultural topic. These topics include native plants, pollinators, soil, water, plant anatomy and tulip bulb planting, tree identification and illustration, propagation and healthy living.
“I love the blend of horticulture, education, and creativity in my job; I can go outside and get my hands dirty, plan lessons, and design or build displays all in one day! The best part of it is being able to interact with visitors while I’m working in the garden or teaching a class. Kids are so curious, and I love getting to talk about a topic when they ask me what I’m doing, whether I’m watering plants, releasing beneficial insects, turning compost, working around our weather station, or seeding my raised beds. I enjoy sharing what and why I’m doing something with the goal of getting others to care about it or see the importance as well.”
Olivia was fortunate to have a family that instilled her love of plants. Her mother ignited her passion for gardening, but Olivia hit her stride in college after taking horticulture classes through the FFA program. She went on to complete her AAS in Horticulture Technology from Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City.
By tapping into a large network of organizations to focus energy and resources, Olivia brings horticulture education to those who seek it. With all of her experience in horticulture, Olivia is enthusiastic about the opportunities for green collar careers When asked what advice she would give to someone thinking about pursuing a career working with plants, Olivia says,
“This field contains more opportunities than they probably imagine, and they should take as many opportunities to explore and increase their knowledge as possible. It’s a wonderful field for anyone who enjoys being creative, focusing on details, learning, and seeing their hard work pay off.”
We agree! And for that we’ve selected Olivia has one of our Horticulture Heroes.