After a three-day visit from a Professional Landcare Network accreditation team led by Kent Hammond, associate professor emeritus at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, Ohio., PLANET granted full accreditation to the Landscape Horticulture program at Dakota County Technical College. The college’s PLANETaccreditation status will continue until 2017. Another review will be required at that time. David Emmitt, program manager at Cuyahoga Community Collegein Cleveland, Ohio, and Scott Frampton, co-owner of Landscape Renovations, Inc., in Afton, Minn., were also members of the team.
PLANET, or the Professional Landcare Network, is a leading-edge association committed to supporting a global membership of green industry professionals in fields such as lawn care, exterior maintenance contracting, landscape (design, building & installation) and interiorscape. With roughly 4,300 member firms, PLANET administers comprehensive programs in the following areas:
- Business management
- Government affairs
- Public relations
- Technical assistance
- Safety and insurance
- Interindustry relations
- Other facets of the green industry
PLANET’s Accreditation program evaluates and recognizes landscaping curricula that keep pace with the evolving needs of the landscape industry. PLANET recognizes four-year Bachelor of Science and two-year Associate of Science degree programs that meet or exceed the stringent requirements of the accreditation process.
“The Professional Landcare Network cultivates and safeguards opportunities for our members—the dedicated professionals and companies who create and enhance the world’s landscapes.”
Sherralyn Cox, DCTC dean of design and health & human services, stated that the visit by the PLANET team constituted a rigorous examination of the Landscape Horticulture program’s curricula, faculty preparation and credentials, and learning facility.
“The visit definitely showed the strength of our program,” Cox said. “Our ties to the landscape horticulture industry are especially good because we incorporate feedback and significant participation from our advisory committee. We also engage in numerous activities beyond the college campus, including service-learning projects, workshops and green-industry tours as well as competition and networking events such as PLANET Student Career Days.”
“DCTC has the reputation as the number one horticulture program in Minnesota.”
Cox went on to say that the program was commended on the quality of the faculty, including Matt Brooks, Jeff Kleinboehl and Ed Plaster. “Their hands-on approach was recognized as most advantageous for student learning and eventual networking with our contacts in industry,” she said. “The learning atmosphere they create was evaluated as excellent. Students feel prepared for their life’s work through their ability to contribute to their new field. We have a one hundred percent placement rate, which is rare in this economy.”
Matt Brooks teaches the landscape design interest area of the program. He and his fellow Landscape Horticulture faculty are always working to align their program with industry to maximize job prospects for graduates. “PLANET accreditation distinguishes our students as future leaders of the green industry,” Brooks said. “Our program’s affiliation with PLANET opens doors of opportunity for our alumni across the country.”
“DCTC has the reputation as the number one horticulture program in Minnesota,” said Hammond, who singled out the program’s self-study, an internal critical self-analysis, as the best he had seen in his 20-plus years of conducting site surveys.
A founding instructor of the Landscape Horticulture program, Ed Plaster understands the significance of PLANET accreditation. Currently a part-time instructor, Plaster taught the program full-time for 30 years before retiring. He worked with fellow faculty and DCTC staff to prepare the program’s self-study and meet all requirements of the PLANET site visit. Dean Cox praised Plaster’s contribution as instrumental to the accreditation process.
Cox pointed out that she and the DCTC community are proud of the Landscape Horticulture faculty and their continuous and successful efforts to increase student and graduate achievement. “Expanded course and certification offerings make our program a superior choice for prospective students with an interest in all aspects of the landscape, design and horticulture industry,” she said.