Boswold retires from Pa. Extension


(June 2015) Nancy Boswold, who retired May 1 after 25 years as an Extension horticulturist and turf grass specialist, knows exactly what she wants to do as she moves to the next phase of her life.
“I intend to learn about my own garden,” she declared in a telephone interview.
Boswold, a graduate of Penn State, holds a master’s degree in entomology from the University of Nebraska.
“I love bugs,” she said.
Scott Guiser, a retired Extension Penn State educator, reported he worked with Boswold for nearly all of her quarter century in Extension.  He said he remembers her best as a turfgrass specialist.
“The last 20 years that’s what she did,” he said.
Guiser described Boswold as one of the hardest education workers he has ever seen.
“She cranked out more work than anybody,” he continued. “She was always engaged with the people we served.  She never said no for any request.”
Many other colleagues will have a chance to tell their stories about Nancy during the retirement party they are planning June 6 at the FirstEnergy Station in Reading, Pa.
“I’ve gotten so much more out of the clients I’ve tried to help,” Boswold declared.  “I end up learning a lot of different things about plants, business and customer service.”
She began her work as a general horticulturist with Extension in Montgomery County and soon moved to a regional position serving nine counties around Philadelphia in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
In that job she was involved with turf and landscaping work, she reported.  Much of her job was helping schools and municipalities with their athletic fields.  She said localities find a lot of community uses for these uses and usually have very few resources to support them.
Guiser said Boswold worked with three key industry groups in Pennsylvania, the Keystone Athletic Field Management Association (KAFMA), Lawn Care Association of Pennsylvania (LCAP) and Penn Turfgrass Council (PTC) “almost without recognition to be sure their education programs were top notch. Her impact was really big.  She worked tirelessly with those groups.”
Despite budget cuts, she found that the local municipalities did a good job.
While Boswold is a strong supporter of youth education and helping young people find good jobs in the green industry she did not work with them much.
“It was not my job,” she said.
Rather, much of her work focused on educating adults who needed training for their businesses.  She said the landscaping and horticulture businesses went through a dip when home building dropped off because they are tied together.  As building has begun to retool she sees light at the end of the tunnel for the green industry in her area.
Asked about native plants and new trends in low maintenance landscaping, she acknowledged there are many good things about them.  However, she stood solidly on her turf, saying there are many times when turf is what is needed.   As many communities are looking for ways to maintain water quality and hold their soil in place, she sees turfgrass as the way for them to go.
One of her lasting legacies, according to Guiser, was the creation of a four-day pesticide course to prepare people to take the exam to become legally approved to apply pesticides.  There was doubt anyone would come, he noted, but come they did. The short courses became a regular event in the state each year.
“Nancy was responsible for about 1,000 green industry professionals successfully passing the written exams required for turfgrass and ornamental producers,” he estimated.
He also reported she liked bug questions and put her master’s degree in entomology to good use finding answers for those she served.
Now she will have time for both her garden and bugs.