Landscape Horticulture Program Shines at Minnesota Green Expo

Ed Plaster wins MNLA Special Service Award; two students take home $1,000 MNLA scholarships.

During an annual Awards Luncheon hosted by the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association at the Minnesota Green Expo on January 10, 2008, Ed Plaster, a former landscape horticulture instructor at Dakota County Technical College, received the MNLA Special Service Award. Two DCTC landscape horticulture students, Elizabeth Spedaliere and Zach Carlton, received $1,000 MNLA scholarships.

The DCTC Landscape Horticulture program was awarded an MNLA Foundation Grant for an irrigation system in the program’s newly completed, state-of-the-art greenhouse.

Also recognized at the Awards Luncheon were new MNLA Certified Professionals from the DCTC program, including Zach Carlton, David Dombrosky, John Fahey, Sarah Hartung, Anne Marie Moseman, Ross Pirlet, William Richartz, and Eric Robb from March 2007, and Faith Applequist, Chad Bischoff, Danielle Erickson, Robin Jensen, Leah Renee Marquez, and Matthew Wolfe from January 2008.

MNLA Scholarship Recipient Zachary Carlton

Far Right: MNLA Scholarship Recipient Zachary Carlton

Plaster, who recently retired after 30 years of service, noted that DCTC is the only technical college to receive grants from the MNLA. He was also pleased that 14 DCTC graduates and students passed the difficult MNLA Certified Professional exam, which posted a 40 percent overall pass rate at the most recent testing session.

“As a program, we have the highest participation of all colleges—two- and four-year—in the Certified Professional program,” Plaster said. “I once calculated that one out of every 10 CPs in the state passed through our doors.”

Tim Powers, MNLA president, introduced Plaster to an audience of 300 green-industry VIPs during the luncheon. Powers related that Plaster started working at DCTC in 1977, teaching courses on greenhouse operations, nursery operations, plant identification, and plant and soil science.

“Ed is long-time member of the MNLA Certification Committee,” Powers said. “He’s served on the Accreditation Committee for the Professional Landcare Network and the Commissioner’s Advisory Committee on Science and Natural Areas for the DNR.

MNLA Scholarship Recipient Elizabeth Spedaliere

Far Left: MNLA Scholarship Recipient Elizabeth Spedaliere

“But Ed’s greatest legacy to Minnesota’s green industry is the students he helped to train, graduates who are among the most sought-after by nursery, garden center, greenhouse and landscape companies. Hundreds of students learned good horticultural skills from Ed, and their knowledge was so good that many, many of them passed the MNLA Certification exam as a capstone to their educational experience.”

Held at the Minneapolis Convention Center on January 8-11, the Minnesota Green Expo 2008 showcased the state’s thriving green industry. Produced by the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association in cooperation with theMinnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation, the annual trade show featured more than 950 booths stocked with a comprehensive range of resources—from plant materials to machinery to services—aimed at professional nurserypersons, landscape designers, and groundskeepers.