Add to Your Toolbox

SNR commencement speaker advises to keep learning

William Ruppert.

Keep adding to your toolbox of skills and life experiences to be happy and successful in life, said William Ruppert, December commencement speaker at the University of Missouri School of Natural Resources.Ruppert owns and manages the St. Louis office of National Nursery Products, a horticultural sales, marketing and consulting company representing regional and national wholesale growers of ornamental and environmental landscape plants.  He is a 1980 SNR graduate with a concentration in ornamental horticulture and landscape design.

As a student in the horticulture program, he coordinated the planning, design, funding acquisition, construction and initial maintenance of the Woodland and Floral Gardens, a mini-botanic garden formerly located at the MU Agriculture Building.

Ruppert said that each of his jobs has added to his personal toolbox in ways he did not always initially appreciate. Prior to assuming his position with National Nursery Products in 1990, Ruppert was employed by MU coordinating the landscape redevelopment and enhancement of the Columbia campus, which was a large part of (then) Chancellor Barbara Uehling’s campus beautification initiative.  He said this experience did more than help him learn more about plants, but assisted him in honing written and spoken communication skills, math and science abilities, and collaboration and teamwork expertise.

SNR Director Mark Ryan advised students to never give up in the face of failure or adversity. He cited the life of Civil War General U.S. Grant who failed in everything he tried in life until he successfully led a critical battle that restored the Union.

Part of his MU duties including coordinating signage along I-70 directing people to the University.  This, he said, enhanced his ability to communicate.  “Don’t discount experiences that don’t seem to fit into your core area,” he told the graduates.

Ruppert also recommended students to get involved in organizations to perfect their professional skills, and to become involved in their communities through non-profit organizations.  “This will help you to continue adding to your toolbox,” he said.

SNR’s Outstanding Seniors announced during the ceremony were Lauren Hillmer, Soils, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences; Walter Lee Conner, Forestry; Michael Moore (also summa cum laude), Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences; and Brooke Jameson, Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

Vice Chancellor and Dean Tom Payne congratulates one of the graduates.