Name: Westley Wentworth
School: Cedar Springs High School and Kent Career Tech Center
Cedar Springs — When senior Westley Wentworth visits a park these days, it’s no longer just for recreation. He’s thinking about the types of trees planted there, wondering about the placement of a walkway, or noticing the plants and shrubs along the edges. And he loves it.
How old were you when this became something you were interested in, and what’s the story there? Westley said he was drawn to the hands-on experiences available at Kent Career Tech Center and began classes there as a junior, but was surprised at how much he enjoyed the agriscience classes in particular: “I didn’t really expect that. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to like it in the beginning, but by the end of my first year at (the Tech Center) I was loving it.”
For the uninitiated, Westley explains the concept thusly: “Agriscience is the process of working with plants; working with landscapes, such as lawn care; and working with animals.”
Of those three focus areas, he said, “Mainly it was landscapes and landscape design that really got me interested. I like the design part because you can put it all together yourself and see how it turns out, and that’s really cool. It’s more of the hands-on experience, getting your hands dirty up in the dirt and having fun putting in all the plants and seeing your design come out.
“I’m very happy about the fact that I get to learn all these new things from my agriscience classes, such as what pesticides to use to get rid of pests like ants and flies, and the general care of how to make plants grow bigger or the process of keeping them healthy for a period of time.”
A few related accomplishments: Westley’s landscape design project at the Tech Center was chosen to be displayed recently at the West Michigan Home & Garden Show at DeVos Place. His plot design featured dogwood trees in the back with a pond and a stone walkway coming up to a circle in the middle, and was prominently featured near the entrance to the exhibition hall.
“It was (on display) next to other professional landscape companies’ (designs), which was pretty cool. It was really exciting to be picked, and the whole process of building it was very fun. I had a little help from my friends at (the Tech Center) for the plants and stuff, and I was really satisfied (with) how it turned out. I think the stone walkway was really awesome, seeing how that turned out. It was hard at first, but then when we started figuring it out, it was awesome.”
Is there a teacher who has had a big impact? Westley gives credit to Betsy Teske and Britton Wilkes-Kunter at Cedar Springs High School and Jennifer Glombowski and Heather Pratt at the Tech Center for helping him find something he’s passionate about.
“Wilkes and Teske pushed me to try (the Tech Center), which helped me want to pursue (agriscience). And when I started getting into it, Ms. Glombowski and Ms. Pratt helped teach us all about the ways to do things right, which got me interested.”
Do you plan to pursue this professionally? “Yes — I’d like to become a landscape designer; that’s the process of designing walkways, where plants go, what plants to use in the landscape, that sort of thing. I’m hoping that by taking a job at a landscape company, I can go further into landscape design and see what steps I need to take after that.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? “I think I will be happily working with a landscape company and doing some designing, or just happily working there knowing that I love the profession I’m in.”
The biggest lesson you have learned from your involvement in this is… “Probably the general steps of taking care of plants and animals, mainly because there’s a lot of different things you have to pay attention to. Like, how much water a type of plant needs, or from what angles they need water — some plants may need water from the top, and others may need to get water from the bottom. And with animals, learning about what foods are good for specific animals and what foods they should not eat.”
Other hobbies/interests: Westley enjoys the games Warhammer 40k and Dungeons & Dragons, both of which he’s been playing for several years: “I love the community within — playing with other people, getting to know their personalities and seeing their artistic designs or their characters come to life.”