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A Nurturing Nature

Tarrah Geszvain, advising coordinator for the plant sciences and landscape contracting majors, receives the college's 2017 Excellence in Academic Advising Award.
Tarrah Geszvain

Tarrah Geszvain

Tarrah Geszvain coordinates and advises approximately 150 students in the College of Agricultural Sciences' plant sciences and landscape contracting majors, and across the University in the undergraduate minors of horticulture, arboriculture, and agronomy. This work entails advising students in their early semesters to help them decide on minors and courses of study before assigning them to a faculty adviser within their area of interest.

"Tarrah is highly regarded by our students as a person who is not only a reliable source of information, but is a caring advocate who always acts in their best interests," says Dan T. Stearns, J. Franklin Styer Professor Emeritus of Landscape Contracting.

Geszvain's other responsibilities include teaching a first-year seminar course in the plant sciences curriculum, study-abroad advising, assisting in the programs' new-student orientation efforts, and program recruitment locally and regionally.

Geszvain was a Penn State Horticulture Show Honoree in 2014. The award is presented by students to faculty and staff members who have significantly supported the program.

"Tarrah is a reassuring voice guiding me in the right direction," says Schreyer Honors College student and recent plant sciences graduate Nettie Baugher. "I truly do not think I would have accomplished as much without such a wonderful adviser."

According to her colleagues, Geszvain goes above and beyond their expectations of an academic adviser to provide support and guidance with the goal of helping students succeed personally as well as professionally.

She often is the face of recruitment for Penn State's plant sciences programs, traveling with students to competitive events, meeting with prospective students and their parents, and representing the programs at Penn State's Ag Progress Days and the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

She also supports the needs of the Department of Plant Science by serving on scholarship committees and keeping up with changing courses, departmental needs and requirements, and relevant technology. During a merger between the horticulture and agroecology majors, she helped to smooth what could sometimes be a difficult transition for students, faculty, and staff members, alike.

"As a colleague, she is extremely helpful and collaborative," says Dianne Petrunak, academic adviser for Penn State's turfgrass science program. "I feel fortunate that we work in the same department."

In 2010, Geszvain received the college's Staff Laureate Leadership Award. In 2007, 2011, 2013, and 2017, she received student travel fund grants from the Penn State Office for Undergraduate Global Programs.

Prior to her current position, Geszvain was an academic adviser for the College of Agricultural Sciences' environmental resources management program, where she advised approximately 80 students, recruited prospective students, helped to coordinate and promote the major and its internship program, and taught a first-year seminar.

Geszvain earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture with a business/production option from Penn State in 2005. In 2008, she received a teaching certificate from Penn State's Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence.

Sponsored by the College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society, the award recognizes faculty and staff members for overall effectiveness in student advising, individual student goal-setting and career planning, and personal counseling. Candidates are recommended by faculty members, students, administrators, and alumni.

--Sara LaJeunesse