Three From Penn College Attain State Horticulture Certification
Two Pennsylvania College of Technology alumni and a returning student have been state-certified as horticulturists on the basis of their performance in a recent four-part examination.
Jennifer L. Grenoble, Pine Grove Mills, and Abigail J. Gehman, Middleburg both of whom graduated earlier this month with associate degrees in landscape/nursery technology and Lisa A. Beehler, Williamsport, entering her second year in that major, passed every section of the Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist test.
"They are joining an elite group," said Margaret O'Neal, director of education and certification for the Pennsylvania Landscape & Nursery Association. "Having a PCH certification certainly distinguishes an individual throughout (his or her) career."
According to the PLNA Web site, Lycoming County has only three other such designees, two of them affiliated with Penn College: Richard J. Weilminster, who recently retired as lead horticulture professor after 34 years, and Carl J. Bower, an adjunct instructor of horticulture in the college's School of Natural Resources Management.
Begun in 1971 as a combined project between The Pennsylvania State University and PLNA, the program has provided training and certification for horticultural professionals for more than 30 years. The program, test and resulting certification are a formal way for current or potential landscape, garden-center or nursery professionals to test their knowledge and gain credibility.
A level of 80 percent or above must be attained in each of the four subject areas of the competitive test: plants and their growth, plant maintenance, landscape design and installation, and retail operations. Those who reach that goal are accorded the PCH designation, a significant accomplishment in an individual's career development.
"It is very much a reflection on their great education. The exam is very difficult, with the pass rate for all four sections being about 20 percent the first time it's taken. Most people have one or two sections that they have to retake," O'Neal said. "Students sometimes have a slight advantage because the Latin names of the plants are still somewhat fresh in their memories!"