College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

IAA Super Student: Lillian Kahl

Glori Hyman
Lillian "Lilli" Kahl - A super student and budding entrepreneur at the IAA.
Image Credit: 
Meredith Epstein

Lillian “Lilli” Kahl may not be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound; yet the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA) student is likened to Superwoman by her classmates and instructors.

“Nothing scares her,” says Kahl’s advisor Meredith Epstein. “She climbs trees, wields chainsaws, operates tractors, drives snowplows, and welds like a pro.”

But those are not the reasons Kahl was named this year’s Outstanding Two-Year Student by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ (AGNR) Alumni Association. With a 3.97 GPA, Kahl also happens to be one of the IAA’s top performing students. During her time as a Terp, this Sustainable Agriculture student has excelled in the classroom, provided service and leadership to the campus, and implemented a cut flower enterprise at the University’s Terp Farm.

^^Lilli Kahl accepts her Outstanding Student award at the 2017 AGNR Alumni Awards Banquet.

According to Kahl, she entered the IAA with a love for the environment and a desire “to be a positive aspect of our community and Earth.” And she meant it. During her first semester at the IAA, she increased the UMD Campus Pantry’s food supply by thousands of canned goods. As the recipient of a $4,000 grant, Kahl procured canned goods which she used as building material to “can-struct” a Testudo the Terrapin sculpture. The sculpture served to bring awareness to the Campus Pantry, which provides emergency food to members of the campus community who are in need.

Kahl’s initial interest in growing specialty crops led her to the Community Learning Garden, where she planted tomatoes, peppers, basil, zinnias, and cosmos. Then, she landed an internship at Terp Farm, where cut flowers won her heart.

Kahl took charge of Terp Farm’s cut flower production during her internship, but felt that one summer was simply not enough time. She continued to work at the farm for academic credit during the fall semester so she could expand the cut flower production for on-campus sales at the Farmers Market at Maryland. She developed an extensive project proposal that included survey results and a marketing plan, in addition to a crop plan. This semester, Kahl is completing the IAA’s Cooperative Education program at the Terp Farm as she implements the new project, which includes a cut-flower CSA.

As a high school student in Makawao, Hawaii, Kahl may not have envisioned herself as an entrepreneur in Maryland, but that is now her vision. After graduating from the IAA in May, Kahl plans to launch her own specialty cut flower business in Maryland.

Congratulations to Lillian “Lilli” Kahl, the IAA’s 2017 Outstanding Student.

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