Magazine article Techniques

Rewarding Horticultural Careers Take Root in Greenhouse Training

Magazine article Techniques

Rewarding Horticultural Careers Take Root in Greenhouse Training

Article excerpt

CAREERS IN HORTICULTURE ARE VITAL TO THE HEALTH OF THE NATION, AND NOT JUST FOR THE obvious reasons. While fruits and vegetables help sustain us and fresh-cut flowers and potted plants add beauty to our lives, so many more contributions from horticultural careers go unnoticed. For example, extensive research is underway to grow foods more efficiently with a focus on preservation, pest control and community.

Starting Early

The seeds for an interest in horticultural careers are being planted early in schools across the country. Students--even as young as the elementary grade level--are being exposed to a wealth of skills that can be learned from gardening and greenhouse training.

Lessons, such as the effects of the weather, responsibility and the reward of seeing their hard work blossom, can be gleaned from a classroom garden or greenhouse.

Many schools seek out grants--which are available from their respective school systems, local gardening centers and even federal agencies--to acquire greenhouses to help bring these lessons to life for their students.

Middle schoolers may start conducting basic experiments related to fertilizers, or testing which plants thrive in their local climates. Students in high school horticultural programs may even gain business acumen by selling the fruits of their labors.

Many Paths to Choose

For students who develop a fascination with horticulture, the possible career options in the field are about as diverse as the crops that can be cultivated in a garden or greenhouse. Colleges and universities are vital breeding grounds to train students on the myriad possibilities horticulture training can open up to them.

A horticulture degree can lead to a rewarding career in production, management, marketing, education or research. Graduates may also start their own businesses in fields such as fruit and vegetable production, as well as landscape design and architecture. Additionally, graduates may decide to run a nursery, greenhouse or farm, etc.

Following are some of the many options a horticultural education can make available:

Production and sales--Horticultural training is the most obvious preparation for operating a vegetable farm, greenhouse, flower or plant shop, nursery, landscaping service or garden center.

Public gardens--This also translates to needed experience in managing landscapes and plant collections in publicly accessible gardens and conservatories.

Marketing--Being knowledgeable of what you sell is important in the wholesale or retail markets of fresh or processed fruits and vegetables, seeds, cut flowers, house plants, floral arrangements, etc. Options include being a buyer for a chain store, a government or private institution, or a wholesale distributor.

Research--This can cover improving the yield and quality of fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants, or developing methods for their handling, storage or marketing. More sophisticated areas include specializing in plant breeding, plant nutrition and plant growth regulation, to name a few. Also, work is being performed to make plants disease- or pest-resistant.

Teaching--The best way to ensure the continued growth of horticulture is to invest in teaching it. High schools, technical schools and universities have a need for qualified horticulture teachers. …

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