Amy Furster, of Eagle Point High School, has been involved in agriculture since the age of 10. In her native Holland, she began working on a dairy farm owned by a friend’s parents. She credits those beginnings as her love affair with agriculture.
When the family moved to the United States a few years ago, she spoke no English. Not speaking a word of English was somewhat of a barrier at first, but she quickly learned that language is no obstacle when it comes to what she loves best: propagating plants. Many types of plants, in fact, from ornamentals to vegetables, trees and more.
At Eagle Point High, she is in her second year of horticulture and has been designated as co-manager of the greenhouse by advisor, Curtis North. Along with the title comes the inevitable responsibility, and hers are many.
When plants were first sown into pots for the plant sale in May, she oversaw that and every morning is responsible for watering chores to make certain tiny seedlings don’t die of thirst. Thousands of tiny plants are just now beginning to poke up through the soil and each needs care to make it through the initial stages of development. Amy admits that the planting of some varieties has been delayed due to a malfunction in the heating system. They attempt to keep the temperature inside the greenhouse between 70 and 80 degrees for seed sprouting, later lowering that when plants can survive a slightly cooler setting.
The thousands of plants that Amy is responsible for are not all that she grows. At home in Trail, she raises ornamentals for the flower beds around home and plants and tends a vegetable garden and fruit trees. Amy feels food safety should concern everyone, especially nowadays, and likes the thought of harvesting and utilizing food grown in her very own garden to that which has been picked green and shipped around the world.
Fruit trees include apples, cherries, plums, table grapes and who knows what’s next. With all that she grows, she prefers not to use chemical pesticides. That and the fact that she says fresh picked fruits and veggies are much more wholesome.
Ornamentals include a variety of carnivorous plants, including, the pitcher plant, Venus Fly trap and Sundew. These receive special care and Amy collects rainwater during winter months to irrigate these plants that are particularly susceptible to the salts in other waters. And just how would she know to do this? Because she does an in-depth study of all varieties she grows or plans to grow before jumping into anything.
One of her specialties is the propagation of cacti from seeds. Due to their slow growth, there are no immediate results from her work. Currently she is growing several varieties. Unfortunately, none will be available for the plants sale in May.
But this youngster is involved in much more than plant propagation. During the summer months, she volunteers with ODFW, something she has done for the past six years. When summer water levels are at their lowest, she and others dip small fish from the shrinking pools and return them to the Rogue River. And between all that, she manages to care for Texas longhorn cattle on her property.
Amy has not yet decided on a career choice, except that it will probably be a hands-on education. She has confidence in her ability to learn quickly, and previous accomplishments would vouch for that. So, wherever future winds take her, it will be around agriculture and you’ll be able to pick her out of a crowd. She will be the one with her head down and elbows in the air, working, weeding, planting, watering and whatever needs to be done.
By Ralph McKechnie
For the Independent