Rebecca McMahon, Sedgwick County Horticulture Agent
In the small town of Tony, Wisconsin, Rebecca McMahon began her love for mother nature. She grew up on a dairy farm where her family had about 90 head of dairy cattle, 45 of which were milked. They also had a huge vegetable garden along with several fruit trees.
“I have always loved plants, flowers, and trees and I got started in that at a young age,” McMahon said.
Her father was their 4-H agent for a while until he began farming full time. Through 4-H McMahon did several projects in 4-H but did mainly dairy and flowers.
“I also participated in foods, clothing, plant, crafts, vegetables, photography, leather craft, youth leadership, self-determined (genealogy), and a few others. McMahon said. “I think I topped out at 14 projects one year.”
After graduating high school McMahon’s love for horticulture brought her to Iowa State University where she attended on an academic scholarship. She earned a degree in horticulture and a secondary degree in international agriculture. Her specialization included fruit and vegetable production. McMahon was then able to apply her skills at a specialty farm in Ohio.
“I worked for a specialty farm called The Chef’s Garden, and was there for about a year and a half, or two growing seasons,” McMahon said.
When her boyfriend (now husband) was beginning graduate school at Wichita State University, McMahon began looking for employment within a short distance of the Wichita area.
“I was looking for something within 6 hours of the area and I saw the opening for the horticulture agent in Sedgwick County, so it worked out great,” McMahon said.
Now, as one of two horticulture agents in Sedgwick County McMahon stays busy by working heavily with the Master Gardeners, which are a group of about 270 volunteers that do anything from giving garden tours to maintaining the grounds at the demonstration garden.
“I also do a lot of soil tests for folks and provide lots of information to people to get their gardens off on the right foot,” McMahon said.
McMahon enjoys sharing her passion for horticulture with the people of Sedgwick County through workshops and training sessions that she organizes. There are always Master Gardener activities as well as Master Gardener training in the fall.
“It is very exciting and challenging at the same time,” McMahon said.
When McMahon is not at the office she and her husband, Steven, enjoy their own garden. Steven, who is an aerospace engineer, has developed an interest in gardening as well. They grow vegetables, as well as containers of herbs on their patio.
“We have a community garden plot so we are hoping to grow enough cucumbers to make pickles,” McMahon said. “We love to cook so we hope to experiment with our garden.”
Casey Droddy, K-State Student, Agricultural Communications/Journalism