College of Science

Alum Green proves it's never too late to go back to school

Scott Green had done quite well for himself without the benefit of a college education. That didn't mean he ever lost his desire to keep learning.

He started college right after he graduated from high school, but decided to leave school a year later to focus on work, with the goal of opening his own business. Green comes "from a line of entrepreneurs," he says: his grandparents had their own café and his parents owned a fan and lighting store. Green wanted a business of his own.

He got married and started a family. He and his wife opened their own plant nursery and built it into a profitable operation. But despite enjoying success professionally, the same thought returned often to his mind.

Go back to school. Finish your education.

So, 15 years after high school, that's exactly what Green did. A lifelong interest in nature and botany led him to UT Arlington, where the Department of Biology offered a bachelor's degree with an emphasis in botany. Green knew he had found the right place, and he threw himself into his studies with all the vigor of a wide-eyed, 18-year-old freshman.

"UT Arlington was a recognized university that was close enough to my home and work, and it offered me a chance to study botany, the field I love," Green said. "It was a perfect fit for me."

Juggling his studies along with a full-time job and a family wasn't easy, but in 1999, Green graduated with a B.S. in Biology with a Botany emphasis. He was the first person in his family to obtain a college degree. He says his time at UT Arlington helped him become more knowledgeable in his chosen field and sparked a love of learning.

"I have a better understanding of the 'why' and 'how' of plant systems, but I also learned valuable business lessons like time management," he said. "Not only did I get my botanical background solidified, but I came away with experiences I will carry with me for the rest of my lifetime."

In May, Green returned to UT Arlington to speak at the College of Science/School of Architecture Spring Commencement ceremony. He told the graduates assembled in College Park Center that a love of learning will take them anywhere they want to go.

"All of the time you've put in, all the efforts and sacrifices you've made, have paid off," he said. "I hope all of you, like me, will take a piece of your UTA experience with you all your lives."

Among the experiences that Green carries with him from his days at UT Arlington are the enthusiasm and fascination he developed for birds and bats.

"I never go anywhere now without my binoculars, because I'm always trying to add to the list of bird species I've seen," Green said. "I was a naturalist-in-the-making from an early age, but I really developed that while I was at UT Arlington."

As for bats, Green used to view the nocturnal creatures the same way many people do - as a nuisance. One of his biology instructors, Loren Ammerman, happened to be a bat expert and did extensive research on their ecology and genetics. Green soon found himself fascinated by the winged mammals. He went on class field trips led by Ammerman to the Central American nation of Costa Rica and Big Bend National Park in West Texas to study them, and his affection for bats continues today.

"Now, I go looking for them, giddy with pleasure," he laughed. "This bat addiction has taken me to many caves in Texas, Costa Rica and elsewhere. I look at Big Bend, where I had been previously many times, with a different eye after being there to study bat life."

Born and raised in Waxahachie, Green developed a love of the outdoors as

Scott Green (B.S. Biology '99) was guest speaker during the College of Science Spring 2013 Commencement ceremony in May.

a child. As a boy, he decided he wanted to raise chickens. His parents said no, but Green was undaunted. He secretly gave a friend enough money to buy a chicken and then present it to Green as a birthday gift; his parents were probably wise to his ruse, but they let him keep the chicken. In high school he was active in Future Farmers of America and raised pigs.

He enrolled at Texas Tech University after graduating from Waxahachie High School in 1979, but after one year Green decided to put his college education on hold, get married and devote himself to starting his own business. After working in his parents' fan and lighting store, he and his wife, Deborah, opened one of their own. In 1987, after borrowing $6,000 from his mother-in-law, he and Deborah opened The Greenery, a full-service plant nursery located on over four acres in Waxahachie.

As the company grew, the Greens expanded their business to include space for weddings and other special events. They later opened Kokopelli Tree Farm in nearby Forreston, and, most recently, Old Bison Ranch, which offers a Western wedding locale and duck and dove hunting in the fall. Green, who holds an auctioneer's license, also conducts auctions of plants, pottery and other items there.

The Greenery is a true family operation, with Scott and Deborah's kids, Bruce and Cassie, also on staff. Cassie followed in her dad's footsteps and earned a B.S. in Biology from UT Arlington in 2005.

During his commencement speech in May, Green urged the new graduates to embrace the next phase of their journey with passion, whether in graduate school or the corporate world. He also challenged them to extend a helping hand to those less fortunate.

"There are so many ways to be a giver," Green said. "Everyone has something to give. Take someone less fortunate than you under your wing, and give of your time and talents liberally. In today's society, you don't have to look far to see people who need help. Use that same dogged determination that got you here to make a difference in the lives of others."

As for advice Green would give to anyone who is considering going back to college after a long layoff?

"Do it! It's never too late and you're never too old to better yourself," he said. "To me, the degree in biology and everything about my UTA experience were great, but what I really gained was a discipline of my own mind, and that has helped me in so many ways. I hope I can provide some inspiration for people thinking about doing the same thing I did. I really enjoyed the ride."

Posted September 12, 2013