He learned how to type at age 9. He drove a tractor and plowed fields on his family farm when he was 11.
And as a high schooler in the 1950s, Poruban used to assemble 1,000 tomato baskets per week while working for a greenhouse operator in Sheffield Village, Ohio. As his responsibilities expanded, he developed an interest in plants. That interest led to his becoming the first blind person to be admitted to and graduate from a science program at The Ohio State University, followed by his career in the nursery industry.
A 2019 recipient of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Distinguished Alumni Award, Poruban had begun studying horticulture in 1957—decades before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990—during an era when few educational opportunities were available to blind people.
Poruban made scientific discoveries on the way to earning a BS in horticulture and an MS in plant pathology at Ohio State, both at CFAES. Then he opened a successful nursery of his own and has been in business for 55 years.
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