In the Weeds with Emma Erler

UNH Extension staff are in the field every day, working with Granite State residents to make life better in New Hampshire. Because they’re so often on the go, getting to know our specialists and educators can be challenging. That’s why we’ve created In the Weeds, an ongoing series of interviews with Extension staff. Get to know the people behind our programs, discover new opportunities and pick up a few music recommendations along the way.

Name: Emma Erler

Title: Education Center Program Coordinator

Start Date at Extension: September 2017

Why did you choose your field of work?

I’ve been interested in the natural world for as long as I can remember. Both of my parents are naturalists and environmental educators, so you could say it’s in my blood. When I was very young, my mom had me help her with certain tasks in the garden, such as planting vegetable seeds and deadheading her perennials. I liked being outside and was fascinated by plants and animals. By the time I got to college and had to choose a field of study, environmental horticulture seemed like a no-brainer. I’ve spent a number of years working as a horticulturist at a handful of public gardens. I chose to join Extension as the Education Center Program Coordinator so that I could have an opportunity to share my love of plants with the public and help others be successful in their own gardening and landscaping ventures.

If you were told that you could only have one tool to do your job at Extension, what would it be?

My computer or phone seems too obvious. I have a few reference books that I find invaluable. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t use the “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” by Michael Dirr, “Weeds of the Northeast” by Uva, Neal and DiTomaso, or “Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide” by Lawrence Newcomb. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I often find it easier to crack open a book than search the web for answers.

Describe a memorable experience you have had in your career as an educator.

I’ve spend most of my career working in public gardens as a horticulturist. In that role, one of my favorite things was interacting with garden visitors and sharing my plant and gardening knowledge with them. I didn’t have an opportunity to teach a wider audience until joining Extension. Now that I work at the Education Center, I’m able to reach a much wider audience, and I’m thrilled to be able to help people solve their home, yard and gardening issues! It’s especially satisfying whenever I hear that we were able to save people money.

If you had to make a playlist to accompany your program, what five songs would you add first?

This list will be as eclectic as my iPod!

  • “Help” by The Beatles, for all the questions we get at the Education Center and Infoline.
  • “The Trees” by Rush
  • “(Nothing But) Flowers” by The Talking Heads
  • “Thank God I’m a County Boy” by John Denver
  • “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell

If there was one thing you would want everyone to know about (your field of expertise), what would it be?

There is no such thing as a perfect lawn or garden! Everyone’s yard is confronted with a suite of different challenges each and every season. The key to success is working with the environment and being observant so that you can stop small problems from becoming big ones. I like to think of gardening as an ongoing experiment. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t get too attached to any particular plant or garden feature. If something fails, that simply means you have an opportunity to try something new!

How can people get in touch with you or learn more about your programming?

Email me at emma.erler@unh.edu or call 603-351-3831. You can also contact the Infoline at answers@unh.edu or 1-877-EXT-GROW (398-4769). Or visit the Education Center in person: 329 Mast Road, Suite 115, Goffstown. Also, check out Ask UNH Extension on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Finally, sign up for our newsletter, NH Outside with Emma Erler.

What Extension program, outside of your program area, would we most likely find you at in your free time?

I’d love to get more involved with Nature Groupie. Helping with habitat restoration projects or invasive species removal is right up my alley!