Student Spotlight: Thomas Hinch | Assiniboine Community College
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Student Spotlight: Thomas Hinch

Student Spotlight: Thomas Hinch

Written On: 17 March, 2017
Category: Student Spotlight

Horticultural Production student, Thomas Hinch, sat down with us to talk about his experience in the program.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Thomas Hinch and I’m currently in the Horticultural Production program at Assiniboine Community College. I’m a mature student. I grew up on a farm just outside Brandon. 

What made you decide to come to ACC? Why did you choose Horticultural Production?

I chose this program after many months of trying to discover what I wanted to do as far as post-secondary. I was previously in a retail position and wanted to try something else that allowed me opportunities to grow and find an actual career. I originally looked at few other programs such as IMA and some of the trades programs but decided to do a Spend-A-Day with the Horticultural Production program. I grew up in the country on an acreage, my dad was a farmer, and I just loved nature and the outdoors so that lent itself to a bit of my decision making. I talked with an advisor and they ensured me It’s not all hands-on and labour, there’s a lot of science, math, stats, and theory involved in the program.

Did you take part in our Spend-A-Day program? 

I did! I tried out the program in the Spend-A-Day program and was really intrigued by what Horticulture Production had to offer. The new greenhouse at the North Hill Campus had a lot of new technology and the industry showed a lot of potential as far as growth in Manitoba. Those two things along with the instructors’ experience, two instructors with a PhD, really attracted me to the program.

What types of things do you learn in the program?

You’re going to learn about growing media. You’ll learn about soil, how to take soil samples and PH levels and about the different textures. You get to experiment and learn about different growing media such as coconut husk and hydroponics and their positives and negatives or how they differ from using soil. We have a lot of labs which involves both hands-on and theory.

Throughout the program, you’ll learn horticulture methods which involve things like tillage, irrigation, and even how to operate some of the small machinery you’d find at a grow plot or greenhouse.

Integrated Pest Management is a very cool topic we get to learn about. It’s easy for people to think we’re just putting on goggles and gloves and spraying pesticide, but it’s not that simple. It’s really about finding natural ways to deal with pests and problems—using wasps or bacteria to fight aphids and other pests. It’s really cool and definitely cutting edge. 

We cover some other topics such as nursery and even floral arrangements and pairings that could come in handy if you were looking for a career as a florist.

Did you go on any industry tours?

Since Manitoba, especially in the Westman region, is very agriculture based we get a lot of opportunities to visit farms and greenhouses and gain a lot of insight into the production and process of these places. Some of the places we toured were large potato, strawberry, and cucumber farms located here in Manitoba. It’s pretty eye-opening experience to see how these places grow their produce; we definitely take the entire process for granted. Not only do we learn about the process by touring these places but also it’s a great way to network within the industry as well and often lead to work placements or co-ops.

Did anything surprise you about the program?

Just how much information is packed into the program. I also didn’t expect how much networking and industry tours would be available to us.

Can you give us an example of a project you worked on?

We get to work on a lot of projects and help with some of the research our instructors are involved in. One research project we were involved with was a research project one of our instructors was working on. We were involved with the grading, testing, and storing of sweet potatoes as part of research to validate the feasibility of growing them in Manitoba’s climate conditions. We were able to produce some great sweet potato samples using this research—which were actually fed to attendees at the Brandon Chamber of Commerce. It was really great to be involved with that.

Another cool project was one that involved us being paired with another student and required us to both grow identical crops but in different seasonal conditions, a cool season and a warm season. We used both of the rooms in the greenhouse to set up different climates and compared our results with each other. These projects involved taking a lot of data and measurements over the course of months.

What are your classmates and instructors like?

We have a great mixture of students, some international and some local. Because of this, we get many different perspectives from all over the world, which is really amazing for what we talk about in class. We all get along really well and look after another if someone needs help on a certain subject.

The instructors really want you to succeed and go above and beyond for us. They’re very knowledgeable about every topic.

Do you have a work placement?

For my work placement, I’d like to work in a local greenhouse or the city of Brandon. I’m not exactly sure yet but there are a lot of options. 

Do you have any plans for after graduation?

I’d love to get involved in some research type work. We did a few things involving tissue samples and cloning that was really interesting. A lab type environment would be a cool place to end up.

Is there anything about yourself that would surprise people?

I’m far shyer than I might come across as. I tend to use a lot of dry humour. I’m a little bit of an introvert and I enjoy working by myself if I want to, the greenhouse lets me do that.

Do you have any hobbies or things you like to do outside of class?

I enjoy reading and collecting books. I play a lot of video games and also do some volunteering in my spare time.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us today!

My pleasure, thanks!

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