Q&A with Jennifer Schutter

Jennifer is a field specialist in horticulture.

What do you do in your current role with the University of Missouri?

I am a field specialist in horticulture for University of Missouri Extension. I work with Master Gardeners, small-scale horticulture producers, home gardeners and youth. I teach the Master Pollinator Steward and Master Gardener courses, Garden n’ Grow, and many programs for home gardeners and producers. I am involved in a Missouri Department of Agriculture Specialty Crops Block Grant for “Growing the Missouri Lavender Industry.” I grow, maintain and collect data on a lavender research plot at the Adair County Extension Center in Kirksville. I use this information to help gardeners and cut flower growers make decisions about lavender cultivars, site selection and care. I give weekly radio interviews and do 30-minute radio shows to get horticulture information out to the public.

Two women lean over a garden and pick lavender on a sunny day.

How long have you worked in this position?

I have worked for University of Missouri Extension as a field specialist in horticulture for nearly 22 years, since May 29, 2001.

What is your favorite part about the work you do?

My favorite part about the work I do is working with such wonderful people. I have such amazing colleagues around the state to collaborate with on programming as well as in my county office. I love to grow cut flowers and vegetables, and I get to work with cut flower and vegetable producers in my region. I love working with home gardeners, our Master Gardeners and community members including a blind man who plants his garden every year. Working with high school students in floriculture to prepare them for the FFA floriculture career development event is another great part of my job, and I enjoy teaching youth to grow productive gardens in our Garden n’ Grow program. It’s all very rewarding.

How are you helping MU A&E Extension reach our #2xAg2030 goal?

My work with cut flower and fruit and vegetable producers allows them to increase efficiency, productivity and profitability on their farms. The home gardeners, Master Gardeners and Master Pollinator Stewards I work with become better stewards of the environment as well as help carry out the mission of extension by assisting me with horticulture programming in the counties I serve. Youth are engaged in growing gardens and training in floriculture which provides them with opportunities and career development.

A woman stands in front of two other women who are sitting at a table. The standing woman is gesturing with her hands as though teaching about something.

What is something your CAFNR and MU Extension teammates may not know about you?

I grew up on a dairy and beef farm and showed Holsteins and Brown Swiss for 10 years, and polled Herefords for 7 years. My family and I raise and show Suffolk and Hampshire sheep. I also play the flute.

What is your hometown, place of high school graduation and degrees/universities?

My hometown is Mountain Grove, in Wright County. But I grew up on a farm 10 miles northeast of there in Texas County. I graduated from Mountain Grove High School. I have a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education and a master’s degree in horticulture, both from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK.