Pickens Tech trains for industry jobs Email
Tuesday, June 07, 2016 06:30 AM

Pickens student Veronika TuckerThe newest generation of students involved in landscape studies, according to Pickens Technical College administrators, are entering the industry prepared with skills and the desire to start careers working for local companies. Veronika Tucker is one example. 

“This program offers so much hands-on training which helps the transition from school to the workplace”, says Tucker, who is currently a Landscape Management student at Pickens. A graduate of Hinkley High School in Aurora, Tucker pursued a few other career paths before coming to Pickens. This season she is a part-time employee at a Denver-area landscape maintenance firm and plans to continue full-time upon finishing her certificate in December.

Tucker is typical of many students in the Urban Horticulture and Landscape program at the Aurora-based school who prefer a curriculum that emphasizes practical, job-related skills. Students are taught technical competencies required to earn diverse industry certifications as well as many soft skills such as customer service.

Pickens portrays their students as anything but traditional learn-from-a-book and talk-theory learners. Instead of watching videos about skid steers, students operate them to gain hands-on experience and safety training. 

Students work in onsite greenhouses where they do more than water their assigned plants.They learn plant identification, gain an understanding of plant science and are held accountable if their plants die because they are not properly watered or fertilized. And twice per year, students comprise the sales and customer service team that interacts with droves of local customers who buy from the December holiday and Mother’s Day plant sales. 

“We strive to give students practical hands-on training along with customer service experience and real-world soft skills that make them workforce ready,” says Bill Cary, the Urban Horticulture and Landscape instructor at Pickens. “Teaching the newest generation of workers can sometimes be a challenge because students have grown up with technology at their fingertips, but they soon appreciate what they can also do with their own hands and how consumers value their plant knowledge.”

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
The ELITE Award for Maintenance: Designs By Sundown
Outlook Award recognizes Michael Moore's achievements and potential
OSHA final rule requires employers to submit records electronically
Communication is key in DOL overtime compliance