Danica Schueck


Photo courtesy of Schueck.

Caroline Schaffer, Former Deputy Features Editor

This previously ran in our April 2022 print issue. 

Danica Schueck’s love for plants and nature began as a young child, as she spent summer days soaking up the sun with her grandmother in her garden. 

Now in her senior year, Schueck has had her heart set on becoming a botanist for more than a year and a half, stemming from the passion grown from her grandmother. With her senior year wrapping up, Schueck plans on attending Penn State University to major in Plant and Agricultural Science as her first step in obtaining her dream career. Despite wanting to be a surgeon back in her freshman year of high school, she now feels she has truly discovered her passion for plants. 

Growing up surrounded by nature in her grandmother’s garden, Schueck developed the same love for plants as she saw in her grandmother. 

“When I was younger, my grandma had a garden, and every summer she would have us help her weed and plant in the garden and I really enjoyed it,” Schueck said. “My grandmother Lynn really inspired me because she had a huge green thumb and was always outside during the summer in her small garden. Playing outside at her house has always been some of my favorite memories as a kid, and although she can’t garden anymore I want to carry on what she did as a hobby and make it a career.” 

When Schueck began looking at what her next steps after high school would be, she was able to narrow it down to what she finds exciting as she looks ahead.

“I didn’t want to do any office job because I find that really boring,” Schueck said. “I really like plants and nature and looked for jobs within that that I wouldn’t find boring every day.” 

While taking up a career in botany is uncommon, Schueck received support from her family through the process of making her decision to attend Penn State to study plants. “My mom thought it was really cool and helped me research [it all],” Schueck said. “All [my family] helped me, because they knew I wouldn’t want to do an office job.” 

Despite being set on this decision, Schueck still holds a few concerns with going into this specific career, especially regarding income and the possibilities. 

“I feel like it’s a wider range field but also very limited,” Schueck said. “With farming and agriculture, it is very risky with crops and making money.” 

Schueck enjoys being able to experience the unique aspects of each and every plant and the learning opportunities that nature provides. 

“My favorite part of working with plants is seeing how pretty plants are and seeing how different they are from each other,” Schueck said. “Whenever I see a plant that I haven’t seen before, I immediately buy it or do research. I also like that the opportunities are endless. You can never know every single type of plant because there are so many, and there is always room for more learning.” 

Looking ahead to where she sees herself 10 years down the road, Schueck can picture herself using science and botany to find healing properties of plants. 

“I would like to be running a sustainable farm while also doing research on the side to find herbal remedies,” Schueck said. 

Schueck firmly believes that plants are the key to ensuring a healthy future for both people and the planet and wants to be a part of the change. 

“I think that natural healing is important and could be the future of medicine,” Schueck said. “It has the potential to be a cheaper, more accessible resource for people down the line. I think it’s important to do all of this stuff sustainably, because it is healthier for our bodies and the earth. Many companies aren’t doing what they can to slow the climate change and decaying of the earth, so it’s important to do what you can and be an example.”