11-13-13-goodness-grows.gifThe sun is just peeking through the trees that line the banks of the Cape Fear River when the first students arrive for classes at the FTCC Horticulture Education Center.

When they arrive, students are excited to see the 4,000-square-foot greenhouse filled with plants. Many of these students may eventually own and operate their own greenhouses or plant nurseries and are getting valuable hands-on experience through their training at FTCC. Students in the Horticulture Technology curriculum take the Plant Propagation class and Greenhouse Operations class to learn about sowing seeds, transplanting seedlings, rooting cuttings, potting, feeding and watering plants as they participate in the day-to-day experience of producing plants for sale. At FTCC, students in the Horticulture Technology program are given the opportunity to put learning into practice.

Students in the Landscape Construction class learn the skills necessary to build, such as a brick-on-sand walkway and a zigzag wooden bridge. Material presented in class is followed up by experiential learning — students get to practice the skills they are being taught. A few thumbs may get smashed, but even beginners quickly learn how to create and build elements of a landscape.

In Soils and Fertilizers class, students compute the amount of fertilizer needed to follow the recommendations of a soil test. Students will apply the skills they learn here in other classes, such as Turfgrass, Greenhouse Operations and Landscape Management.

FTCC’s Horticulture Technology curriculum has a unique partnership with our next-door neighbor — Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Students have access to the gardens and grounds of CFBG to study plants and landscaping. Cooperative projects are also carried out that benefit both the garden and the FTCC horticulture students.

The Horticulture Technology curriculum at FTCC offers an Associate of Applied Science as well as three certificate programs: Basic Horticulture, Basic Landscape Maintenance and Horticulture Science. Students can complete the AAS degree in five semesters while going to school on a full-time schedule; students can complete the certificate programs sooner. A wide range of individuals enroll in the program. Our students are of all ages and include those just completing a high school diploma, those who are retired and older adults seeking lifelong learning opportunities. Some companies send their employees to FTCC to obtain valuable training needed to advance in their careers. The horticulture program covers most aspects of a diverse field of endeavor, and the program’s emphasis on management means that students learn the basics of business and entrepreneurship.

Careers in horticulture include a wide range of choices: landscape installation and management, wholesale and/or retail greenhouse and nursery, retail garden centers, turfgrass manager, private gardener, garden designer and interiorscape technician, to name a few. Each student receives the opportunity to learn a little about all these and more. In addition, the horticulture program encourages high school students to participate in dual-enrollment programs which may be available in their schools. High school students can enroll for no charge in specific FTCC horticulture classes and begin earning college credit while still completing their high school diploma.

Contact me for more information about the Horticulture Technology curriculum at webbj@faytechcc.edu or by phone at 910-678-8447.

Photo: In Soils and Fertilizers class, students compute the amount of fertilizer needed to follow the recommendations of a soil test. 

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