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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Formal Hort. Training in the Works for Volunteers

June 21, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohioans who dedicate their time to volunteer at public horticulture institutions and organizations may soon receive certified educational training.


Ohio State University's Department of Horticulture and Crop Science has teamed up with Ohio State University Extension, 4-H and the Cleveland Botanical Garden to launch a model distance education horticulture volunteer training program. The program is being funded by a $55,500 Ohio State Excellence in Engagement Grant.

"The objective of the program is to build strong community partners beyond the walls of Ohio State to provide horticulture training to individuals who would otherwise not receive that education through the institutions they volunteer for," said Jennifer Pope, a research associate with the university's Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and the project coordinator. "Many botanical gardens and conservatories do not offer a formal horticulture training program for their volunteers and, with shrinking budgets, they rely on volunteers more and more to work in the gardens and interact with the visitors."

The 10-week on-line course, which is expected to begin in January 2006, will consist of such topics as plant propagation, garden maintenance, communications skills and the history of various horticulture institutions — all based on existing horticulture curricula at Ohio State.

"Upon certification, volunteers should be highly trained in basic horticulture skills and education. The goal is for them to be more knowledgeable and more confident in interacting with the public," said Pope. "They would become better ambassadors for their respective institutions."

Pope said that if the horticulture certification program is successful, the training will be launched at other horticulture institutions throughout Ohio.

"The program is unique because it's the only one of its kind in Ohio, and other programs across the country are not offered through distance education," said Pope. "The training is geared toward specific horticulture institutions and their community of visitors."

In addition to the public horticulture certification program, the grant also provides for the development of a consumer horticulture program, being called the Green Gardener. The program, also to be taught through Ohio State's distance education technology and offered at various horticulture institutions, is designed to provide basic gardening training to the general public.

For more information on either certification program, contact Jenny Pope at (614) 292-3848 or

Candace Pollock
Jenny Pope