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Starting a Business Rooted in Science

David Koser standing behind row of plants in a greenhouse

David Koser

David Koser has a mind for details. As an undergraduate biology student, he was on the pre-med track. After college he was a successful quality control laboratory technician, and later, a management system coordinator at Arkema, Inc., an industrial chemical manufacturer.

While he excelled at Arkema, Koser soon “became tired of working inside, under fluorescent lights” all day. With his attention to detail and thoroughness, his next venture would be well researched.

He knew three things for certain: he wanted to be his own boss, he wanted a predictable schedule, and he didn’t want to work inside with chemicals all day.

Charting His Own Course

David Koser inspecting a plant in a greenhouse

Koser had always loved learning about how to grow plants, but he never thought of it as a viable career option. With horticulture he could use his science background, his problem-solving skills, and help people at the same time.

"I became interested in the idea of starting a sustainable horticultural food production operation,” he says. “I don’t want to grow conventional, agronomic crops like field corn and soybeans. I want to provide food for people, not livestock."

The Master of Professional Studies in Horticulture was the perfect pathway to realize his goal. "I saw the MPS program as a way to learn the science and practice of horticultural production without having to focus on a narrow research topic. I also wanted an education that was more in-depth and well-rounded than a technical degree."

“The MPS is a great choice for those interested in starting a business.”

The degree, he continues, would provide the theoretical and scientific foundation necessary to be innovative, as well as give him the tools to develop a horticultural operation based on a sustainable, agroecosystem-centric model.

Thinking, and Acting, Locally

Through various connections, Koser hopes to eventually gain access to a 150-acre plot south of North Prairie, WI. After conducting an in-depth market analysis as his final project, he plans to initially grow apples for hard cider and blackberries, both crops that are in high demand in the area. This will be coupled with habitat restoration and an environmental education component.

David Koser in campus greenhouse

“The MPS is a great choice for those interested in starting a business,” he says, “because the degree requirements are flexible, and the capstone project can be tailored to one’s personal or professional goals.”

Eventually Koser would like to add field and greenhouse herbs based on original herbal tea recipes, a barn event center, beekeeping, and honey and maple syrup production.

Koser’s plan is grounded in both the scientific tenets of research and experimentation, as well as traditional business principles like supply and demand and market feasibility. 

Above all, though, he wants to fulfill a need and support a community. “I want to increase local food supply and offer an alternative to shipped and imported produce.” 

Memorable Course

SOIL 5611 Soil Biology and Fertility with Dr. Gutknecht

What he gained:

  • a more in-depth, scientific understanding of the physical and microbial mechanisms underlying nutrient cycling, soil health, and fertility
  • a greater appreciation for macro- and microorganisms of the rhizosphere 
  • skills to develop horticultural systems that maximize soil biological activity, minimize nutrient inputs, and maximize carbon sequestration
  • a thorough understanding of the risks posed by global climate change to both above- and below-ground ecosystems and some methods for mitigating these risks in horticultural production systems

Why Choose the MPS in Horticulture Program?

  • “This program is a great option for anyone interested in gaining an in-depth understanding of the science and application of horticulture, but who doesn’t necessarily want to focus intensely on a narrow thesis topic.”
  • “Graduates have the ability to critically evaluate and interpret horticultural literature, enabling them to apply the latest science to their professional work.”