The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

A need for less waste brought Lewis Daniel to an organic career

Desiree Erdmann
Lewis Daniel trims away unhelpful branches from one of the saplings on April 27, at the Landscape Gardens on East Campus at City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. Daniel graduated from UCSB in 2011 with a film degree and after working in the industry with 70 hour work weeks with no breaks he decided to choose a new path at City College hoping to leave with landscaping license or arborist certification.

After nearly five years of working in videography, Lewis Daniel decided he needed to make a change.

“I was doing 70 hours a week, not having any days off,” he said. “Working like that kinda wears on you after a while.”

Daniel studied business and communications at various colleges, but eventually landed in film. He earned a bachelor’s degree in film in 2011 at UCSB and dove into the industry soon after.

In the span of a few years, he did internships, started his own production company, worked at a TV station and got hired for an international company where he worked corporate events in hotels around California.

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But he couldn’t picture a future for himself at that company.

“Seeing the amount of waste from all these events was kind of disgusting to me,” he said.

The wasteful nature of the job combined with the intensive workload pushed Daniel in the direction of working with plants.

Growing up in Upstate New York, he was surrounded by farm fields, but he never felt close to nature.

His first experience working with plants happened in a class he took his senior year of college at UCSB.

“I think what started in my senior year in college grew into this obsessive interest in it once the film work fizzled out,” he said.

That growing obsession prompted him to start classes at City College. At first, his goal was to get a landscaping license or arborist certification.

“Those are hard careers,” he said. “Your body can only sustain doing that type of work for so long.”

He assessed his options and took inspiration from his teachers who demonstrated their passion for teaching.

“Maybe I could go down the education avenue,” he said. “I’ve always had the inspiration to go and get a master’s degree.”

He’s been working as a teaching assistant in the gardens on campus for three years, as well as taking a full course load of classes.

Re-entering college and starting at square one with a career was daunting at first.

“I avoided going to school for so long because I always thought I don’t need to go back to school, I have a bachelor’s already,” he said.

Now he has nearly seven associate’s degrees and is aiming for a master’s by age 40.

“When I first started my first community college experience and bachelor’s experience I didn’t get any scholarships,” he said. “I wasn’t applying myself as hard.”

The feeling of having limited time to accomplish his goals is what drives him to take on as much as he can to get to where he wants to be.

“After my first year here I was awarded the outstanding student of the year award for the environmental horticulture department,” he said. “That was a really great moment for me in my life overall.”

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