When Emily Seely first started working for Farmside Landscape & Design, based in Wantage, New Jersey, she was looking for some short-term office work as she was completing her associate degree and was unsure of her next steps.
She admits because she didn’t have a background in landscaping, she was a little intimidated to learn the ropes, but her team made it easy to ask questions and gain knowledge. Seely quickly saw the potential in the field and now it’s her goal to share the opportunities the landscape industry offers with others.
“I have found that one of my biggest passions in the industry is sharing the legitimacy of careers in landscape and I find confidence in that that defeats my fear of ever being an ‘outsider,’” Seely says.
Seely has been with Farmside for four years now and she says the more she learned about the landscape industry, the more she wanted to be a part of it. She says her favorite part about working in the industry is the drive to show professionalism in the landscape.
“A big goal for me as I grow in the industry is to find a way to connect more young people to the reality of a career in trades,” Seely says.
She says she would encourage her younger self to follow her own interests more intently and understand there is a world of opportunity outside the classroom.
“I feel that so many people fall into the college pipeline because they think it’s what they’re ‘supposed’ to do – just to graduate in debt with a degree they truly don’t care about,” she says. “I encourage people who aren’t sure about their career path to see what they organically feel drawn to and try and create ‘work’ out of it that they will enjoy.”
As the director of engagement, she connects with both employees and clients, establishing relationships with them. With employees, she is involved from the recruiting process and onboarding to their time with the company. With customers, she is usually the first person they speak to and she puts them in touch with the right team members.
“I think if you want your company to grow, whether that be in client footprint or employee numbers, then you need to have someone whose focus is to engage,” Seely says. “A big part of my role is ensuring that our team and clients feel appreciated and that we are committed to having the best experience with them and I find that this sets us apart.”
She also attends community events to represent the company as a career and quality service provider and handles the brand’s marketing and social media. Seely coordinates company events and even occasionally hops in a truck to transport materials to a job site.
“I love the uniqueness of my position here; every day, I have a new challenge and get to learn new skills and I am supported with resources from colleagues and members of the NALP that make it easy to take on new things,” Seely says.
Seely says she’s also been mentored by Lisa Kuperus and Kelly Dowell. She says Kuperus identified her strengths and interests to create the right path and perfect role for her at the company.
“Kelly Dowell is someone I admire for finding her fit in the industry as well,” Seely says. “I have listened to her speak at events and recently took a class with her for marketing in landscape specifically. She found her niche and a way to share it with others that will continue to develop the industry as a whole. I hope to grow in the ways that she and Lisa did in my future years at Farmside.”
She encourages other women not to get caught up worrying about working in a “man’s profession.”
“Find the people who lift you up in your position and encourage you to step outside the box; you might be surprised by the army behind you telling you to go for it,” Seely says.
Five years from now, Seely hopes to have created a program to connect more young people to the industry and continue to grow their team to support more clients.