Penn State Extension, working with the landscape industry, is offering a new online workforce training series aimed at new and seasonal landscape industry employees.
The series, which consists of six online courses, is targeted at entry-level or seasonal landscape employees and provides timely training in the subjects and areas that employees need to get started. Business owners can register their employees to take the online training as part of their onboarding process.
The “Employee Landscape Training” series currently includes Pruning Basics; New Lawn Establishment; Planting, Mulching and Watering; Symptoms and Signs of Plant Health Problems; and Introduction to Soils. The final course, Reading Landscape Plans, will be available in April.
“Workforce training videos and knowledge-check questions show beginning workers how to accomplish basic landscaping tasks and supply them with the knowledge to do their jobs,” said Ruth Benner, extension educator who is coordinating the course series. “Each of the six online courses has a quiz at the end, and participants will need to achieve a passing score to receive a certificate of completion.”
Dan Eichenlaub, owner-operator of Pittsburgh landscape company Eichenlaub Inc. and past president of the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association (PLNA), consulted with Penn State Extension in creating the series to be sure it addressed the landscape industry’s needs. He contends that this extension-industry collaboration presents a significant value proposition to business owners.
“By training new employees online, we want to help landscaping companies realize a return sooner than in the past,” he said. “For years in our industry, it was all on-the-job training — new employees would shadow the owner or an experienced employee and learn what to do. It took months.
“But companies don’t have that kind of timeframe anymore, and small companies often do not have anyone to act as a trainer,” he added.
In addition, Eichenlaub noted, he and PLNA are working with Penn State Extension in developing a second round of online training for landscape company employees intended to build on the initial series.
“We will continue to work on the development of courses tailored to individuals who would like to make a career in the landscape industry,” he said. “These courses will be rolled out over the next two years.”
Penn State Extension Director Brent Hales pointed out that this industry-extension partnership demonstrates the continued value of the land-grant university model. “Penn State Extension actively engages industry to ensure we are meeting the current needs of businesses and communities across the commonwealth,” he said. “We provide face-to-face and online education to our stakeholders to address problems and advance opportunities.”
PLNA members will receive a 25% discount on trainings they arrange for their employees. For more information about the “Employee Landscape Training” courses, contact Ruth Benner at 814-825-0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To register for the online courses, go to https://extension.psu.edu/employee-landscape-training-pr2020.