Meet Manny Peralta, who graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. Manny also completed an associate degree in graphic design in 2017, and currently works at the California Department of Food and Agriculture as an agricultural technician.
We talked with Manny and asked him to share about his senior thesis, “Wildflowers of PUC,” a guidebook he created that features flowers found on the college’s property.
Tell us about your “Wildflowers of PUC” project. What was the inspiration for it?
Most of my inspiration came from my constant exploration while hiking or biking out in the back 40 while I was a student at PUC.
How long did it take you to complete the book?
The project took me about seven months to complete. Most of the time was spent researching, identifying plants, editing photos, and designing the book’s layout.
What was your favorite flower that you photographed? Why was it your favorite?
My favorite flower that I photographed was Mimulus angustatus (pg. 82). I came across it while biking one day. I wasn’t expecting to find any flowers that day since it was early in the season. As soon as I saw it, I nearly fell off my bike trying to avoid riding over it, ruining my chances of photographing it. This is a flower I would come back to over and over to see how it was doing. Every time I would find more and more of the same kind.
What did you learn about yourself during the project?
I guess one thing I learned about myself was how much I can handle without breaking down from stress. I was able to manage my time wisely to balance going to class and doing homework while planning enough time to go out and explore the back 40 for hours on end.
We’ve heard there are plans for a second book. What are you planning to include this time around?
My second book idea is a bit ambitious but I believe it can be done. I have been planning to work with different national parks to be able to put together a comprehensive flower guide book to California. This is still in the developmental stage of figuring out all the logistics and trying to put together a team and a group of sponsors that will be able to help me achieve this project.
What’s your typical workday like?
I’m currently working for the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture as an agricultural technician. A work day for me begins early in the morning around 6:30 a.m. and ends around 5 p.m. Each day I have a route that contains a variety of fruit fly traps I have to service and relocate onto different fruit trees. Some of the fruit flies that we trap are the oriental fruit fly, the Mexican fruit fly (mex-fly), melon fruit fly, and the infamous Mediterranean fruit fly, commonly known as the medfly. Many people might remember the early days when the state would implement radical solution like spraying pesticides over large residential areas in order to control the medfly. Besides monitoring traps I also interact with different homeowners to educate them about the different traps we place on their trees and the negative effects these flies have on our agriculture.
What are your hobbies?
Some of the more consistent activities I do are hiking and cycling, but I have recently started getting into rock climbing as well.
What is the most important thing you learned during your time at PUC?
I have to say the most important thing I learned was that with God, anything is possible.
Editor’s note: PUC is on a quest to permanently protect, preserve, and manage over 850 acres of the college’s forestland by purchasing a conservation easement. The PUC Forest Fund was created to help raise money for the easement, and if you feel compelled to donate, please visit puc.edu/give.