The Horticulture Department offers a variety of classes, including beginner courses that teach students the basics of landscaping, growing plants straight from seeds and creating clones of plants.
Valerie Loew, an instructor in the Horticulture Department demonstrates the beginning steps of horticulture, applied botany and plant propagation.
Aside from gaining knowledge on the diverse types of plants, students are also taught hands-on work to an open field of labs. These labs provide students with practice and experience on what they could possibly do in their future. Some even reward students with food to eat from the work they’ve done.
The students work with all-natural materials, and if a preservative is added such as tea, that too is also naturally-made by the students themselves. It is perfect for those students who want the real world experience, and the department gives them just that.
“There’s a big umbrella under the Horticulture window,” said Valerie Loew. “So I have the opportunity to expose students to all kinds of careers.”
The Horticulture Department receives many interns each year. Some stay for more than year, others test the waters to decide what field they truly thrive towards. They generally work in the plant nursery where they watch, care for and grow the various plants produced.
Two interns, Denise Gonzalez and Humberto Delgadillo find joy in all the work put in. Delgadillo has been with the program for about two years. Originally wanting to pursue landscaping, the program has changed his perspective and he now is studying plant science. His experience with plants has shown what is right from wrong, and has learned that living things around can make the biggest different.
“You want bees, you want butterflies. You want nature that’s going to pollinate your plants, and give you more plants,” said Delgadillo.
The instructors are a great source for students and interns, providing the material needed to understand what is being taught. Delgadillo admires Loew for her patience and understanding with her students. He sees that she does not get frustrated with the students, but takes the time to ensure that they comprehend her.
“There’s never pressure to do anything wrong.” Said Delgadillo. “Even if you mess up, it’s ok. You can make mistakes.”
Gonzalez is approaching her one-year mark with the program, and it too has given her a new view on opportunities. Before beginning her journey here, she was a part of agriculture. At the time, Gonzalez thought she knew what she wanted, but once she dug into the lifestyle of horticulture, she realized it was much different.
“This [Horticulture Department] is a whole different animal,” said Gonzalez. “It’s part classroom knowledge, part outdoor knowledge.”
Gonzalez is now in charge of the California-Native plants in the nursery, and has come a long way in the ten months she’s been with the program.
The Horticulture department and staff allows students who are interested in this field to take a step into the real life. They continue to grow and look to add more to their vast fields in the coming years. Visitors are always welcomed by the students and staff of the department, and like the interns do, discover a new passion.
“It’s very rewarding to come to school, work here, and see these things [the plants] grow,” said Gonzalez. “It’s kind of like having kids.”