Nurturing plants is second nature to her
Gardening and working with plants are activities that Carol Knepp, a Kingwood-area resident and executive director for the Mercer Society, believes can have far-reaching beneficial effects.
“I think that there is something inherent in each of us,” said Knepp, “something primordial that is still a part of the original humans that needs to be connected to nature. Gardening is a way for people to connect to nature.”
“When they do, they find it relaxing and therapeutic. Once people have this, it will help them in their daily lives. And once they garden, people generally start paying more attention to wildlife. It’s good for them and good for the environment.”
The Mercer Society is a nonprofit support organization that raises funds and promotes activities that support the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. In addition to organizing events, fundraising and designing promotional material, Mercer plans and implements educational programs and conservation efforts.
At times, her job seems as extensive as the arboretum and gardens that cover 300 acres of East Texas Piney Woods, boasting the region’s largest collection of native and cultivated plants. It is described on its website as “a living museum” that also provides habitat to a variety of animal life.
As a child, Knepp said she learned the wonder of gardening from her grandparents growing up in Indiana. “Every year, my grandfather would plant his tomatoes on my birthday because it was right after the last frost. He told me planting tomatoes on my birthday would provide magic for the tomatoes to grow, and I believed him.
“Now I tell the children when we go around the gardens here that there is magic out there, that they’re going to see something they haven’t seen before, and they believe it because it’s true.”
Although she has worked with plants since her youth, Knepp said she began “down this road” professionally in the 1980s, notably spending 10 years of her career at the Denver Botanical Gardens as an education specialist.
In her spare time, aside from gardening, Knepp likes to read, long-distance bike ride and work with her Labrador retrievers.
Although Knepp said she believes her job at the society will be the last professional position she will seek, she is looking forward to gardening and continuing to help others do so far into the foreseeable future.
“I have a passion for education in gardening,” she said. “So many people need to connect with something in nature, and gardening is a very valid avenue to make that connection. A lot of people need a hobby, and this is a hobby that both men and women can embrace.”
Name: Carol Knepp
Occupation: Executive director of the Mercer Society
Fast Fact: Carol Knepp believes gardening is a way for people to get in touch with nature and become more aware of their environment.
Julia Bishop Beautie is a freelance journalist. She can be reached at email@example.com