Calling all green thumbs: Lake Land College’s horticulture programs sprout viable career opportunities
August 6, 2014
For Lake Land College horticulture alumnus Jonathon Eloe, opening Eloe Lawn and Landscaping in Shelbyville allowed him to turn his passion into a viable career.
“I grew up doing yard work and just stuck with it,” said Eloe. “Since then, this line of work has become my passion and I love reworking and renewing an outdoor living space for my clients. It’s very rewarding work.”
Eloe opened his business in 2012 and he specializes in installing new landscapes. According to him, business has been very good and his client base continues to grow throughout central Illinois.
“I’m booked through the end of the year and hope to bring on additional employees for the next season,” said Eloe. “There are definitely opportunities in this industry; we’re in high demand.”
Lake Land offers two horticulture programs. The horticulture certificate is a year-long program, designed for students seeking educational training and employment in landscaping, greenhouse management, plant propagation, nursery management, golf course management and turfgrass management. In addition to 33 credit hours of specialized courses in horticulture, business and soil science, students receive 12 weeks of supervised occupational experience at approved internship locations.
The horticulture production and landscape associate degree is for students seeking advanced training within the green industry including greenhouse management, golf course management, landscape design, nursery management and landscape construction. The 20 weeks of internship allow the student to specialize within the production or landscape areas of their choice.
“The horticulture industry is very diverse,” explained instructor Dyke Barkley. “This line of work appeals to those who like seasonal work, variety in their daily life or working outside. It’s really a very rewarding line of work because people get to turn their passion into a career.”
Experience in planning landscapes and installing and caring for plants provides fertile ground for careers in today’s job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for those with horticulture backgrounds is projected to grow 13 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. More workers will be needed to keep up with increasing demand for lawn care and landscaping services from large institutions and individual homeowners. Job prospects should be very good.
In Illinois, 1,910 are employed in the horticulture industry, with an annual average wage beginning at $27,000. In fact, Champaign-Urbana offers the best pay in the state for these kinds of jobs with an annual average wage of $40,790, followed by Peoria at $34,000.
To learn more about the horticulture programs at Lake Land College, call 217-234-5232.