Landscape Horticulture Professionals Training




Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC (CUCE-NYC) planned and delivered landscape horticulture professional development training courses of varying levels and intensity to multiple audiences, including grounds maintenance staff of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), professionals and green jobs trainees, and as part of the Sustainable South Bronx’s BEST Academy for green collar jobs training.


RIOC grounds staff and other landscape professionals and trainees often do not have a comprehensive understanding of horticultural and ecological science concepts that are directly applicable to their jobs. As a result, these professionals may not perform job tasks as required for effective and sustainable management of urban parks landscapes. In the case of RIOC, management has expressed the need for hands-on professional development of employed staff to improve knowledge, skills, and abilities related to urban horticulture applicable to urban landscapes. The program coordinator for the Sustainable South Bronx BEST Academy expressed a need for research-based horticultural training for participants of the program.


CUCE-NYC's Urban Environment Program Area developed, planned, and delivered professional development training courses, focused on horticulture appropriate to urban landscapes for the following audiences:
• Nine adults working at RIOC were engaged in a series of 8 half-day professional development sessions, from November 8, 2010 through Sept. 12, 2011. The program covered intensive training in tree and shrub pruning and all phases of ecological turf management. Sessions were participatory and hands-on, combining classroom instruction and discussion with field and lab instruction and practice.
• Eleven landscape professionals from the Greater New York City area were engaged through CUCE-NYC’s Horticulture Training for Professionals and Green Job Trainees program, which covered horticultural topics, such as soils, botany and plant physiology, ecological turf management, plant care and site management, pruning woody plants, and managing plant health. The course was delivered in a series of six weekly 3-hour sessions from April 27 through May 26, 2011. In bringing together landscape professionals from the public and private sectors, the course served as a forum in which these professionals that had not otherwise interacted could learn from each other and develop fruitful links.
• Twenty-three job trainees were engaged as part of workshops at Sustainable South Bronx BEST Academy, covering plant identification and diagnosis and management of plant pests in classroom and field instruction. The workshops took place in fall 2010 and spring 2011.


• Twenty professional landscapers participated in the two courses: nine from RIOC and thirteen professionals that included three landscape architects, two groundskeepers from the Highline Park, a NYC Parks Forester, a community gardener, a groundskeeper from Prospect Park, a retail nursery professional, and four professional landscapers. There were a total of 23 Sustainable South Bronx BEST Academy participants.
• In the case of the Horticulture Training for Professionals and Green Job Trainees, there were an average of seven participants per session.
• Four participants of the Horticulture Training for Professionals and Green Job Trainees received NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation pesticide applicator recertification credits in categories 2, 3a, and 25. Five participants received International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) continuing education units (CEUs).
• RIOC’s parks and recreation manager, Michael Smith, was quoted in a Cornell Chronicle article, “Prior to Cornell's involvement, many of our staff had limited training in horticulture, so this enabled them to do their jobs more effectively. We are very pleased with their new skills and the improvements we've seen." The article, titled “Extension trains Roosevelt Island maintenance staff in landscape horticulture,” was published on Oct 10, 2011. (
• CUCE-NYC has further enhanced its relationship with Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation management and is currently in the early stages of developing additional curriculum and training for both the staff of RIOC as well as joint sessions with volunteer residents of Roosevelt Island, as they embark on management of a newly developed park onsite.

Researchers involved: 

  • Ferenz, Gretchen S
  • Brooks, Lorraine
  • Lambert, Veronique Theresa

Organizations involved: 

  • Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
  • Sustainable South Bronx BEST Academy

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • New York

New York State focus: 

  • Bronx
  • Kings
  • New York
  • Queens
  • Richmond