Dylan Brown, an 18-year-old Kalapuya High School student, loves plants.
So much so that Brown is already enrolled in one botany class at Lane Community College, and plans to enroll full-time in the program the college this fall. He’s also applied to more than 50 scholarships in an effort to continue his plant-related studies.
Brown, who uses the majority of his free time to learn about plants, study plants, or work at Grey’s Garden Center – surrounded by plants – said he discovered his passion shortly after transferring to Kalapuya from Willamette High School. His love of plants has grown so much that he hopes to one day start his own community farm
“Prior to coming to Kalapuya, I was only mildly interested in school and was just kind of hanging out with friends, not really engaged, doing things I probably shouldn’t have been doing,” he said. “But everything I was sort of waiting for was here.”
Brown said that several staff members at Kalapuya have had a big influence on him and prompted him to change the way he approached school and his education.
“Staff here prompted me to turn things around,” he said. “They provided me with the personal attention I needed to make me feel seen and valued for who I am. The layout of this place is great, too. There are lots of windows and beautiful views everywhere and a lot of classes and opportunities be outside.
Brown said his interest and passion for plants began to blossom as he was able to spend more time outside as a part of school, including wildlife class, trips to the mountains, journaling about and drawing plants – and of course working on the Kalapuya Farm.
“One season over the summer I worked on the farm as long as I could, up to the first day of school, which was really amazing,” Brown said. “I got to grow my love of botany, but also learned about how to feed people and how plants are food, where food comes from and I got to teach younger students about it, too.”
In the future, Dylan hopes to offer similar opportunities to kids and families.
“I have this really big dream of starting a community farm that has all kinds of things – food production, a space to educate, an entire area dedicated to teaching people,” he said.
While Dylan has already technically finished taking classes at Kalapuya, he is excited to partake in graduation in June, and to continue his learning at Lane Community College.
“There’s so much to learn it gets a little frustrating,” Brown said. “But in my mind, plants are better than video games – it’s not like they run out of batteries or come to an end. I’ll always have plants.”