Amy Jones-Timoney

By

College: Agriculture, Food and Environment

UK Alum’s Lifelong Curiosity Fosters Unique Career at Area Zoo

Published: Apr 15, 2014

 

Video Produced by UK Public Relations and Marketing.  To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.  If using a mobile device, click the "thought bubble" icon in the same area.

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 15, 2014) — While the animals understandably take center stage at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the environment where they live is always on the mind of UK alum Steve Foltz.

 

As director of horticulture for the zoo, it’s his job to create habitats for hundreds of animals every day. 

 

“It's so hard to get the right plants to grow in exhibits,” said Foltz.  “Trying to put shade in a giraffe exhibit when they can reach 20-25 feet is very difficult.  We also have to make sure we have the right plants in some of the exhibits but then also use some plants to actually feed them, and we have to make sure there's nothing toxic in the exhibit.”

 

Part of the Covington native’s job involves research, as he discovers what plants grow best in particular locations within the zoo exhibits.

 

“What excites me everyday is we get to plant plants, and not only just plant them but test them out, keep records on them and figure out which plants are doing better than other plants and then we provide that information back to the community,” Foltz said.  “That obviously came from my training at the University of Kentucky.”

 

Foltz was an ornamental horticulture major in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.


“The University of Kentucky taught everything from trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, to soils, to the chemistry of turf. It's not just about the plants, it’s about being able to grow plants successfully and all of those courses were tailor-made for my job right now.”

 

Foltz says his outside-the-classroom experience also helped propel his career through internships. 

 

“I did two internships at the Cincinnati Zoo and botanical gardens, and that’s when I realized this was more than just a zoo,” Foltz said. “Then I was hired as assistant director, and I just basically worked my way up.” 

 

He also earned valuable experience helping to build The Arboretum near UK's campus, what is today a favorite spot for students.

 

“Just as I was leaving, they were building The Arboretum, so I was one of the ones that helped with the first planting. It’s nice to see that grow and see how well it’s doing now,” Foltz said. 

 

The Northern Kentucky resident enjoys making the short drive to Lexington to visit not only The Arboretum but also to cheer on the Wildcats and reminisce about life on campus.

 

“It was just really a great place to be ― it felt like home,” Foltz said. “UK offers a wide variety of learning experiences.  It was just so well rounded for me, and I really enjoyed that type of environment.” 

 

Foltz says the professors helped to foster an atmosphere of learning. 

 

“The professors were so welcoming and knowledgeable,” Foltz said.  “They were and still are the best in their field."

 

Some 25 years later, Foltz is thankful his professors shared that expertise with him as he gears up for another summer season doing the job he loves.

 

“We have 1.3 million people coming through the door, so to create a landscape that’s enjoyable to that many people is just phenomenal,” Foltz said.  “Seeing the people come in and go, ‘wow it’s so beautiful here,’ I never get tired of hearing that. It is really a nice way to make a living.”

 

Watch more UK Alumni “see success.” stories by clicking on the playlist below.

 

 

 

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February
1
 
Sun
2
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Mon
3
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Tue
4
LNFS Presents: Groundhog Day
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Massage on the Go #1
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Internship Info Session
Wed
5
LNFS Presents: Interstellar
LNFS Presents: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Thu
6
LNFS Presents: Songcatcher
LNFS Presents: Wall-E
Cultural Coffee Hour
Fri
7
 
Sat
8
 
Sun
9
 
Mon
10
Employer Showcase: Day 1 Technical Career Fair
Job Club: Successful Telephone Interview/Screening Tips and How to Choose & Prep your Professional References
Tue
11
LNFS Presents: Caddyshack
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Employer Showcase: Day 2 Non-Technical Career Fair
Last Day to Drop a Course with 50% Refund
Wildcat Wednesday
#TrendingTopics: Space Exploration
Wed
12
LNFS Presents: Taxi Driver
LNFS Presents: Gone Girl
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Legal Planning
Thu
13
LNFS Presents: The Great Gatsby
Cultural Coffee Hour
Fri
14
 
Sat
15
 
Sun
16
 
Mon
17
LNFS Presents: Dear White People
Tue
18
Caregiver Support Group
LNFS Presents: Wreck-It Ralph
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Wed
19
LNFS Presents: Nightcrawler
LNFS Presents: Ip Man
Celebration at UK vs Texas A & M Women’s Basketball Game, Memorial Coliseum
Thu
20
LNFS Presents: The Bang Bang Club
Cultural Coffee Hour
Fri
21
Celebration at UK vs Auburn Men’s Basketball Game
Sat
22
 
Sun
23
Convocation
Mon
24
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Job Club: Interview Strategies from the Other Side of the Table
Tue
25
LNFS Presents: Inception
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Fellows Founders Week Luncheon
Wed
26
LNFS Presents: The Birds
LNFS Presents: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1
Guest Lecture: President Emeritus Mark Yudof of the University of California – Berkley
Thu
27
LNFS Presents: Superbad
LNFS Presents: Little Shop of Horrors
Cultural Coffee Hour
The Blue Tie Bash
Fri
28
 
Sat

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Tue, 02/03/2015

Repeats every week until Thu Apr 30 2015 except Wed Mar 18 2015.
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