As the last leaves fall from their branches, professional landscapers face a well-deserved slower winter season ahead. To help landscapers get the most from their off-season, Penn State Extension developed a series of online landscape skills courses.
These courses are ideal for green industry professionals, including landscape contractors, landscape maintenance professionals and horticulturists. In an industry with high turnover for entry-level positions, the courses can benefit people seeking employment in landscape design, installation and maintenance, and landscape businesses wanting to provide additional training for experienced employees.
“Landscape professionals are busy from spring through the fall with little time for professional development,” said Ruth Benner, commercial horticulture extension educator based in Erie County. “Training during the slower months of winter will help these employees be well prepared for the coming season by increasing their knowledge and skills.”
The course library includes training in plant identification, pruning trees and shrubs, plant biology and taxonomy, and pest and disease management, among other areas.
Benner explained that the topics were selected based on the results of an industry survey, interviews with owners and supervisors at landscape contracting companies, and through discussions with the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association and extension educators about common landscape challenges across Pennsylvania. This revealed the topics of greatest priority for training.
Those interested in registering employees for courses should look for the “Register a Group” button on the online course product page. This allows the group leader or manager to purchase multiple registration seats in a course and then assign them to individuals in a group, team or entire organization as needed.
Additionally, the courses enable landscapers to catch up on Pennsylvania Pesticide Applicator recertification credits. Many courses also qualify for Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist continuing education credits.
This fall, Extension launched three new online courses: “Plant Identification and Usage: Coniferous Trees,” “Weed Management for Ornamental Landscapes” and “Plant Identification and Usage: Deciduous Shrubs.”