Q&A with Alaskan Leaf’s Samantha Rodgers
O’Hara Shipe: Samantha, you’ve been nominated as one of Anchorage’s Best Budtenders, so we wanted to give your adoring fans a glimpse into the life of a star budtender. So, tell me, where did you grow up?
Samantha Rodgers: I was a Mat-Su Valley export who moved as a young child but moved as a young child to Valdez, Alaska in 1994. During my time growing up there I fell in love with giving back to my community through civic duty.
OS: That’s awesome! Do you have any favorite childhood memories from growing up in Valdez?
SR: My mother got me involved with giving back though volunteering and my favorite memory was being able to help with our Kid's Vote program through Junior Achievement with Karen Davey Stewart. In her memory she inspires me to this day to continue to give back no matter where life takes me.
OS: Speaking of civic duty, I heard that you have a political past.
SR: The year that I became a budtender, I ran for State Senate in my district. One major thing that inspired this was working the “Yes!” campaign in 2014. Getting involved in your community however you can is so important. I have also been a hoopsmith for eight years.
OS: So, from political candidate to budtender? That’s a pretty epic story! What inspired you to become a full-time budtender?
SR: Before the “Yes!” campaign I had taken a break from full-time employment because I sustained a traumatic brain injury on the job. Over the years since legalization, my life had changed for the better in more ways than I could list after introducing [cannabis] to my routine. After trying to be a positive influence through civic duty in my community I wanted to be a face of our cannabis industry. I feel honored to have the opportunity to serve Anchorage this way. Every day is a good day in the cannabis industry!
OS: Now that cannabis is legal in Alaska, I imagine you are seeing a lot of first-time customers. Can you explain what a budtender is and why they are important for the industry?
SR: [Alaskan Leaf] is close to the airport so I feel like we see a lot of cannabis tourism now. As a budtender I help guide people in finding products cultivated and created across the state in a one-stop shop. I spend a lot of time personally researching what is available in our market to gain and understanding of the products, so I can better serve our customers.
OS: Do you have any favorite customer stories or funny moments from working at Alaskan Leaf?
SR: Our team has so much fun at Alaskan Leaf! One of my favorite funny memories from work would have to be when my co-worker Melissa and I were rocking out to music from “The Wedding Singer”. As one of our regulars left we both started singing "Somebody kill me please..." simultaneously and busted out laughing.
OS: Nice—I love that movie! So, what would it mean to you to win the Press Pick Award for "Best Budtender"?|
SR: If I were recognized as Best Budtender it would be more meaningful than words. I have overcome so much to be here today and I never dreamed this could be a reality. Thank you so much to everyone who has believed in me and given me the opportunity to shine. I am living the dream because of you!
OS: Alright girl, thanks for catching up with me during your vacation in Montana and best of luck Friday!