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Finding A Green Thumb

C. Kralovetz

Casey Kralovetz had never heard of horticulture and landscaping until his first encounter with Bruce Brunner, the new agriculture teacher at Sheboygan Falls High School. Before Brunner’s arrival, the agriculture program had been very focused on farming. This was something different and Casey, a junior, was hooked immediately.

“I wanted something hands-on,” Casey remembers. “I liked the outdoors. I liked horticulture.”

He ended up doing an independent study with Brunner and helped him start what became a very successful program at Sheboygan Falls.

As he approached graduation, Casey was not sure what he wanted to do next. Despite a push from guidance counselors to consider a four-year college, he was reluctant to enroll without a career direction.

He graduated from Sheboygan Falls in 2002 and did a lot of different jobs including a stint as a driver for UPS. The early morning schedule and physical demands made him think that there had to be something better to do and he asked his former teacher for advice.

Brunner suggested he consider a career in horticulture.

“The drive and everything I had in high school was fulfilling itself,” said Casey, who eagerly embraced that suggestion and enrolled in the horticulture program at MATC where there was an emphasis on arboriculture

He got a part-time job in the industry and graduated from MATC with a degree in horticulture and arboriculture. He also earned a business degree from Lakeland College. He worked in the arboriculture industry and then joined Stihl Inc., a manufacturer of hand-held outdoor power equipment that is used in the horticulture field among others. He was just promoted to sales manager at Intermountain Stihl.

He credits Brunner’s courses and direction as helping to open his eyes to “a whole industry he had known nothing about.”

He is still in touch with Brunner and goes back to help with his classes occasionally.

“Mr. Brunner has been an awesome mentor,” Casey said. “He’s been there for me before class, in class and after class, and after graduation as well.”