After the Big Dig buried Boston’s interstate highway, the city put new surface space to good use and created a 1.5-mile ribbon of parks known as the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Environmental studies major Nicole Semeraro ’18, who interned at the nonprofit and took a position there after graduation, cultivates and maintains the plants that make Boston beautiful.
As one of three full-time seasonal horticulturalists, Semeraro is responsible for the Dewey Square and Fort Point Channel parks. She grooms, plants and waters but also helps give tours and sets up for corporate events.
The Greenway’s philosophy focuses on sustainable landscape practices, and Semeraro is quick to explain how many of the park’s features — such as insect hotels that use materials to shelter the bugs that pollinate plants — have multiple purposes. She connects this idea to courses such as Sustainable Farming and Permaculture Design, which required she complete field hours.
“A lot of principles I learned in Colby-Sawyer’s permaculture garden guide our practices at the Greenway,” Semeraro said. Another guiding principle is to work with the land. Semeraro is in charge of a rain garden, which uses rain-tolerant plants to hold and absorb rainwater that gathers because of its slope. She’s transformed her own North Reading, Mass., backyard into a garden that incorporates raised beds and other techniques that efficiently use space.
Semeraro enjoys other aspects of her work, especially the public art exhibitions. She nurtured her love of art at Colby-Sawyer with printmaking and pottery classes, and a favorite day on the job was meeting the artist who designed a Chinatown Park mural.
She also serves as a Greenway first point of public contact. People stop to ask questions or compliment the park. She says courses like the Community-Based Research Project enhanced her people skills and helped her understand how to play a team role while also offering her own input. Now she leads volunteers who care for the space and makes important calls on plant care.
“The Greenway goes beyond horticulture, and my Colby-Sawyer liberal arts education set me up to be a well-rounded person and employee,” she said.
Semeraro never would’ve sought an internship if not for Colby-Sawyer’s requirement, but she ended up finding a job that makes her passionate. She received the Greenway’s offer before graduating.
“I really love this job,” Semeraro said. “I feel like I’m doing something that matters and that actually helps people, plants and animals.”
To learn more about the Greenway, visit rosekennedygreenway.org