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The 2009 ASHS Annual Conference

Week Long Practicum Course to Teach Landscape Contracting Skills

Sunday, July 26, 2009
Illinois/Missouri/Meramec (Millennium Hotel St. Louis)
Alexander Niemiera, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
J. Roger Harris, Horticulture, VPI & SU, Blacksburg, VA
College and university curricula often offer courses via the traditional classroom format.  Due to the nature of a landscape contracting curricula, courses are most effective when they combine fundamental information of a classroom format with practical experience garnered in an “on-site” or a lab setting.  Landscape contracting topics such as planting techniques, irrigation, and hardscape materials and installation are examples where a “real world” exposure to the subject material is invaluable.  Thus, to better prepare students for careers in landscape contracting, we developed a yearly landscape contracting practicum course.  Beginning in the fall of 1997 and every year thereafter, we offer a four-to-five day practicum course that is held the week prior to the fall semester. The goal of the practicum courses is to expose students to the fundamental concepts as well as the hands-on aspects of a range of landscape contracting topics.  Student feedback has been very positive about the subject matter and skills obtained during the courses.  The overall student evaluation of each course has been at least a 3.7 (out of 4.0) for the 12 courses.  A distinct advantage to the week-long class format, in contrast with a weekly three-hour lab, is the continuity of the subject matter and start to finish project format.