Horticulture takes root

Studying plants and trees

Horticultural science classes at JCCC take place in the Horticultural Science Center, which opened in 2001. The center houses a classroom, a plant-tissue culture lab, a headhouse (the industry term for the hub of plant-growing operations) and a greenhouse.

JCCC introduced a horticultural sciences certificate program in 2001, adding a landscape technician certificate in 2006 and an associate's degree in horticultural sciences in 2007. A 2+2 transfer agreement with Kansas State University allows students to continue their education with a bachelor’s degree if they wish.

A variety of fields are open to horticulture students - floriculture (cultivation of herbaceous flowering plants and houseplants), pomology (study of all fruits and nuts crops), olericulture (vegetable growing), ornamental horticulture (growing trees and shrubs for use in landscape design), viticulture, nursery management, greenhouse management, landscape design, turf management, interioscaping, micropropagation, horticulture therapy, landscape design, hydroponics, aeroponics and horticultural sales.

Dr. Lekha Sreedhar is the full-time horticulture faculty member. Adjunct faculty with various areas of expertise also teach classes, including Dr. Alan Stevens, director, K-State Research and Extension Center, Olathe, and an adjunct associate professor at JCCC teaching landscape design.

"The skills students learn at JCCC are beneficial to the industry. Students receive an underlying depth of knowledge that they wouldn't receive with on-the-job experience," Stevens said.

Stevens adds that JCCC's Introduction to Horticultural Science and Plant Propagation classes use the exact same textbooks and lab manuals as K-State's.

Asked whether he thought a horticulture program was necessary in the suburbs, Stevens said, "Yes, green space is a precious commodity in the city and suburbs, and we need quality educated people to maintain it. The JCCC program serves a strong and definite need."

Dr. Csilla Duneczky, dean of sciences, points to new possibilities for program growth - plant biotechnology, plant sustainability, water conservation in irrigation and CAD design applied to Landscape Design classes.

According to Duneczky, interest is substantial in two horticultural electives, Arboriculture and Pest Control Management, for which students can sit for licensure examinations in those fields after course completion.

"We work with major nurseries, lawn care and landscape companies, florists, county extension agencies and private gardens in order to serve the industry," Duneczky said. "All our faculty are experts in their fields. The feedback from the industry is that our students are well prepared."

For more information, email Lekha Sreedhar or call her at 913-469-3763.

Learn more about Careers in Horticulture (video).