The University of Delaware and Longwood Gardens have reached a five-year articulation agreement that will allow students who graduate from Longwood’s Professional Gardener Program to complete their bachelor of science degrees in the agriculture and natural resources major in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR).
The Professional Gardener Program at Longwood Gardens is a two-year, tuition-free program offered every year to approximately eight individuals who have obtained at least a high school diploma and have one year of horticulture experience. The program trains students to be gardeners skilled in the art and science of horticulture. Students work in all areas of the garden and receive classroom instruction from Longwood staff and outside instructors, some of whom are professors at UD.
Kimberly Yackoski, assistant dean of student services in CANR, was heavily involved in the process for the University and said she is excited for the benefits that the program offers for both the University and Longwood Gardens.
Concerning the benefits for UD, Yackoski said she is excited to have students from the Professional Gardener Program attending the University and bringing their real-world experiences to the classroom. “For the students who choose to continue at UD, I’m confident they will make a positive impact on other UD students by sharing their horticulture knowledge and the experiences they had during their time at Longwood. It’s a win win for everyone involved.”
Doug Needham, the head of the education department at Longwood Gardens, Robin Morgan, dean of CANR, and UD Provost Tom Apple signed the agreement by the beginning of December, 2011, which delighted Yackoski. “Our goal was for the articulation to be approved by the end of 2011 and we were thrilled when that goal was accomplished.”
Working with Yackoski on getting the agreement finalized were individuals from UD and Longwood Gardens. They included Tom Sims, deputy dean of CANR and the T.A. Baker Professor of Plant and Soil Sciences; Bob Lyons, professor in UD’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences; and Needham and Brian Trader, Longwood’s coordinator of domestic and international studies.
Lyons said he is “very excited about this new articulation agreement because it adds an undergraduate dimension to the already strong graduate program relationship between Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware. It also recognizes a high standard of rigor by Longwood’s course work instructors who are committed to excellence in the classroom.”
Said Needham of the agreement, “Education is deeply embedded in our mission at Longwood Gardens, and we are passionate about providing our students with a rigorous academic experience, coupled with experiential learning through rotational work internships in the gardens.”
Because of this, Needham said, “It is critical to us that our students have the option to continue their education toward a baccalaureate degree, and we are very pleased to further our ongoing educational partnership with the University of Delaware through this articulation agreement. Graduates of our two-year Professional Gardener Program now will be able to transfer their coursework and complete a B.S. in agriculture and natural resources at UD.”
Trader, who is also an adjunct faculty member at UD, said that his role in the agreement was to meet with faculty from the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and familiarize them with the classes being taught in the Professional Gardener Program to make sure the courses were of the same caliber as the courses being taught at UD.
Of the Professional Gardener Program, Trader said that it is “really a program that allows students to couple academic learning in the classroom with an immersive hands-on applicable experience in the gardens.”
Longwood currently has an articulation program with Temple University, and Trader said that about a dozen students from the Professional Gardener Program have received their degrees from Temple or are currently taking advantage of the opportunity. He said that after the success with the Temple articulation program, it only made sense to try to form one with UD.
“Longwood already has a strong association with UD because of the Longwood graduate program and because most of the Ph.D. staff here at Longwood are adjunct faculty at UD,” said Trader. “Some of the students in the program come from Delaware and the opportunity CANR provides is very attractive to our students.”
Trader also sees the benefits for both sides, saying that for Longwood, “It shows the caliber or the strength of the academics that we’re delivering here. It will allow us to recruit better and it could potentially increase some of the diversity and enrollment in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, not necessarily in number but in background and experience.”
Now that the agreement has been finalized, Yackoski said that she looks forward to seeing the relationship between Longwood Gardens and the University of Delaware grow even stronger. “We’ve had a relationship with Longwood for quite some time, but this has made it even stronger. They have a lot of the same goals that we have, which includes helping students grow and be the best they can be.”
Article by Adam Thomas
Photo by Evan Krape
This article was originally published on UDaily