When Isaiah Nelson enrolled in W.B Saul High School, he new very little about plants, and had no idea that botany would become a significant part of his life. Nelson went to Saul with the goal of starting to prepare himself with a career as a veterinarian, all of that changed once he took a class with Jessica McAtamney.
“I wanted to go to Saul because it was a hands-on school, but little did I know the decision that I made has changed my life,” he said. “After taking a science class with Mrs. McAtamney, I realized how much I like working with plants and that I was actually good at. From there my passion grew. I knew then that I no longer wanted to be a veterinarian, but a botanist.”
Nelson was inducted into the Nationals Honors Society in 10th grade. He has made honor roll since entering Saul. He is the president of Engineers without Boarders (after school program at Saul) and Future Farmers of America (FFA) Advisor. Nelson’s school has Pennsylvania’s largest chapter of FFA and of the biggest chapters in the country. Nelson is also junior ambassador for the Philadelphia Zoo, where he volunteers his time on a monthly basis.
Last year, Nelson won first place for the regional and state competition during the Agricultural Science fair that was held in Harrisburg and Penn State University. The science project was titled: "Can Pokeweed Be Used As A Natural Dye?” Nelson was also chosen to compete in the National's at Indianapolis, Ind., where he won silver.
“The whole concept of my first science project started in one of Mrs. McAtamney classes in 2011,” he said. “I asked her about this particular weed that I found on the farm at school. My teacher didn’t tell me what it was, instead she told me to do research and figure it out on my own, and I did. “I not only identified the name of the weed, but also created my own dye from it. I was able to go to city, state, and nationals with this project. It was a new experience for me, but it was also exciting.
This year, Nelson has a new science experiment called "Do Flowers Yield Emotions.” The project has already won first place for city in Harrisburg. Nelson is hoping to go to nationals again for this project.
“As far as the topic for my latest science experiment I kind of did it on a whim,” he said. “I started doing floral arrangements and I was thinking to myself do people who receive flowers feel happy afterwards. I then started conducting my experiment from there. Depending on the person, whether its male of female, receiving flowers omit positive and negative reactions.
“In my findings with men, they sometimes give off negative reactions. They might take offense to someone giving them flowers because it insults their masculinity. Where with women and the elderly, they love floral arrangements and we’re happy when they received them.
Nelson says that his experience with his first science experiment helped prepare him for his second.
“My ultimate goal is to compete again in states and go on to nationals,” he said. “I would like to come in first place for both. With my experience with Nationals in Indiana, I didn’t know what to expect. I was just taking everything in. This time around I know what to expect. I know what I have to do to improve and what the judges are looking for. I will continue to work hard. I’m proud of what I accomplished the first time around, but this time I want to wow the judges.”
Nelson recently started his own floral business. The business is called In Perfect Bloom Florist. The goal of the business is to supply affordable and professional floral arrangements for anyone who is interested.
“I have always been eager to learn about the preservation of our environment and what we can do to take of it,” he said. “I receive enjoyment by working with my hands and making others happy. After accepting the challenge of producing arrangements for special occasions for my family and friends, I wanted to share my talent with others through my own floral business.
“I sell and make all of the floral arrangements. I wanted all of the prices to be reasonable for everyone. My business offers me more knowledge about flowers. The business teaches me how to manage my time, and how to identify a variety of flowers that is used in floral culture. Having my own part time business is hard because I already have a busy schedule with school, but it’s also the ultimate learning experience for me. This is what I love to do.”
For more information on Nelson’s floral business, visit Inperfectbloomflorist.weebly.com.