By Sophia Ling
Steve Mayer, horticulture educator at Purdue University Cooperative Extension, retired at the end of December after nearly 24 years with the organization.
After a part-time summer internship with a local extension office in his home state of Wisconsin, Mayer solidified his career path that ended up spanning 41 years.
“I wanted to make an impact on people, and education was one way to do that,” Mayer said.
In his role as a horticulture educator at the Purdue Extension office, the Carmel resident is credited with building and establishing several initiatives. He coordinated the extension’s Master Gardener program, in which participants provide answers to gardening questions from the community and serve as volunteers. Additionally, Mayer created the Demonstration Garden, which has flourished as a learning space for all gardeners. Each year, the produce from the garden is harvested and donated to those in need.
For Mayer, the most rewarding part of his job were his interactions with home gardeners through educational programs and answering questions.
“Knowing that you’re providing information and communicating with people from where they’re at and helping to meet individual needs is really satisfying,” Mayer said.
Throughout his career, Mayer has witnessed many shifts in public interest in horticulture.
“(There is a) growing interest in food production, not just for yourself, but others as well,” Mayer said.
In retirement, Mayer plans to focus on a more “down-to-earth” lifestyle, “doing things [I] didn’t have time to do before,” he said. He hopes to do more personal gardening, work with Master Gardener volunteers as a volunteer at the Demonstration Garden and continue to share his passion for gardening.