Hort in a Heat Wave

DCTC Rosemount campus

Landscape Horticulture students shrug off record temps to enhance campus

DCTC Rosemount campus

The first three-plus weeks of July 2012 in Rosemount, Minn., put together 13 out of 23 days where temperatures broke the 90 °F mark with two days topping 100. The average for those 13 days simmered in at more than 95 °F. The historical average is more like 84, a temperature bested on eight of the days that didn’t quite reach 90. Tack on dew points in the 70s, which are defined as “tropical, sweaty, very uncomfortable,” and you’ve got more than miserable outdoor working conditions.

Wildflower Prairie Restoration Area

Wildflower Prairie Restoration Area

Those conditions didn’t stop three students in the Landscape Horticulture program at Dakota County Technical College from hitting the college’s Rosemount campus with their loppers, shears, pruners, trowels, hoes, spades and rakes to work on new and existing gardens and plantings as part of their summer internships. Wynne Sutton, Samantha Born and Jenni Otterstedt love working outside— and piping-hot weather simply goes with the territory.

Jeff Kleinboehl, an instructor in the Landscape Horticulture program as well as the college’s head groundskeeper, has been impressed by the work ethic of the three students. “Maintaining our college grounds requires constant attention, lots of thought and planning along with plenty of physical activity,” said Kleinboehl, who teaches Landscape Construction as a specialized interest area. “Jenni, Wynne and Samantha have done a ton of work this summer designing, planting and caring for garden areas around campus. The heat wave hasn’t slowed them down for a second.”

Courtyard Garden

Courtyard Garden

Much of the work has happened on the west side of campus at the library atrium entrance and around parking areas, including a new median garden with sunflowers and other dry-tolerant plants. The students planned, prepared and planted the median garden and have put in scorching hours watering and weeding so that the flowers and ornamentals can reach their peak when school starts in the fall. Other gardens on campus feature flowers left over from the Landscape Horticulture Club’s highly successful spring bedding plant sale. The students even planted a pumpkin patch on the south side of campus.

“Fine gardening is a wide open field—and a perfect fit for students with both artistic and technical talent,” said Catherine Grant, the Landscape Horticulture instructor who teaches the Greenhouse Production specialized interest area. “I want to bring an already beautiful DCTC Rosemount campus up to the next level with fine gardening projects designed to give my students hands-on learning experiences and the chance show what they know.”

The Valiant Interns
Wynne Sutton
Wynne Sutton | Specialized Interest Area: Greenhouse

Wynne Sutton | Specialized Interest Area: Greenhouse Production

Originally from South Minneapolis and now living in Eagan, Wynne Sutton, 61, traces her love for horticulture to her father, who was big into gardening. She studied hort at Utah State and became a master gardener while living in South Dakota. She’s also interning at the Como Conservatory this summer.

“I’m very interested in working at a public garden after I graduate,” Sutton said. “I also love teaching and I’m looking forward to teaching propagation techniques to young children during a camp on campus in August.”

Samantha Born
Samantha Born | Specialized Interest Area: Design

Samantha Born | Specialized Interest Area: Landscape Design

Samantha Born, 32, can’t believe how much fun she has working outside. A Rosemount resident who considers Prescott, Wis., her hometown, Born is particularly interested in exploring a career designing urban gardens with a strong emphasis on aesthetics. Urban agriculture is becoming increasingly popular around the world—especially with renewed nutritional concerns and the expanding global food crisis.

“My instructor in design, Matt Brooks, is on sabbatical studying urban agriculture at a number of locations,” Born said. “Adding design aesthetics to the mix opens up new windows of opportunity.”

Jenni Otterstedt
Jenni Otterstedt | Specialized Interest Area: Greenhouse

Jenni Otterstedt | Specialized Interest Area: Greenhouse Production

A single mother with a 6-month-old daughter, Marli, Jenni Otterstedt, 33, works full-time as a server at an Italian pie shoppe and is still finding time to complete an 80-hour internship on campus. Her dream on graduation is to own a flower shop with a greenhouse so she can grow her own plant materials. She was attracted to the green industry as an exciting career alternative.

“I can’t tell you how much I enjoy being outside,” said Otterstedt, an Omaha, Neb., native now living in Eagan. “The work is so peaceful and rewarding. I love it.”

All the Hard Work Pays Off Gallery

To learn more about Landscape Horticulture at DCTC, contact:
Or visit the Landscape Horticulture blog to get an insider’s look at the program.