COD Horticulture Program Launches New Certificate

By Jennifer Duda

Helping more landscape and horticulture students and workers keep up with green trends, the College of DuPage Horticulture program will launch a new Sustainable Landscapes certificate this fall.

"Everything is going green," said Julia Fitzpatrick-Cooper, COD Horticulture professor. "Horticulture and landscaping is the ultimate green industry. We wanted to promote that idea and also felt a need to retrain and capture a rapidly growing part of the market."

With so many consumers seeking green alternatives, the College's Horticulture staff also felt that stressing eco-friendly alternatives could provide a resource for community members. Too many people equate horticulture with pesticides and herbicides, giving the new certificate's curriculum the dual role of educating avid gardeners and trained professionals alike.

"A pesticide or chemical should be the last approach, but so many people believe otherwise," Fitzpatrick-Cooper said. "Plus, a sustainable landscape is so much more than pesticide free."

The concepts of sustainable landscaping, like water conservation, aren't new, but the certificate and its coursework provide an opportunity for green industry workers or current horticulture students to improve their skills, making them more marketable in a green-driven job market.

Indeed, the College's courses delve deeper into what many laypeople might consider simple topics. With the growing popularity of butterfly gardens, many avid gardeners have jumped on the bandwagon, but COD's "Landscaping for Wildlife" course goes beyond those basic understandings, helping those within the profession learn the finer points in preserving and restoring ecology.

"It's not just attracting bees and butterflies, but about creating a suburban landscape using plants that create food sources, nesting and resting places for 'critters' of all kinds," Fitzpatrick-Cooper said.

Part of that learning comes through partnerships forged by the College with professionals in the field. Some courses are offered utilizing experts at the Conversation Foundation, The Morton Arboretum and other industry experts, for example, renowned gardening expert Roy Diblik, co-owner of Northwind Perennial Farm in Burlington, Wis.

Through these long-term partnerships, students gain industry insight and are able to practice techniques developed by seasoned professionals. Horticulture students planted 12 research gardens, following Diblik's "Know Maintenance" approach, to examine many of Diblik's perennial plant community concepts as well as collect maintenance and time data.

These components, plus courses like "Water Conservation in the Landscape, "Landscaping for Wildlife," "Introduction to Green Roofs," "Sustainable Landscape Design," "Perennial Plant Community I" and "Perennial Plant Communities II" create a quick-paced certificate to help refine skills for an existing horticulture workforce.

"There are six courses for a total of seven credit hours and this certificate is designed to be achieved in one year," Fitzpatrick-Cooper said. "We've purposely designed courses without any prerequisites, meaning students can finish the program and put their new skills to work much quicker than usual."

For more information, call Julia Fitzpatrick-Cooper at (630) 942-2526 or Judy Burgholzer at (630) 942-3095.


Contact Information

Judy Burgholzer, Program Coordinator/Advisor
Technical Education Center (TEC), Room 1058, (630) 942-3095

Martin Bartz, Horticulture Lab Technician/Grower
Technical Education Center (TEC), Room 0025, (630) 942-3807

Brian Clement, Instructor/Advisor
Technical Education Center (TEC), Room 1059, (630) 942-2526

Peter Deeman, Program Advisor
Technical Education Center (TEC), Room 1047, (630) 942-2548

David Earl, Program Advisor
Technical Education Center (TEC), Room 1047, (630) 942-2538

Amy Hull, Greenhouse Supervisor
Technical Education Center (TEC), Room 0026, (630) 942-3095 

Business and Technology Division
Technical Education Center (TEC), Room 1034, (630) 942-2592