The Undergraduate program in Horticultural Science continues to be one of the finest programs in the nation. We currently have 120 students in our four-year bachelors program and 25 students in our two-year Ornamental and Landscape Technology (OLT) Agricultural Institute Program. Among the three concentrations in the four-year program, 76% are in the General Concentration, 27% in Landscape Design Concentration, and 10% in the Science Concentration. As we face the challenge of reduced enrollments, we are implementing new recruitment activities to increase awareness and inform prospective students about the many opportunities for a fulfilling horticulture career. Although Ornamental horticulture is still popular, more entering students are interested in fruits and vegetables. Thankfully, our program still offers a wealth of courses related to edible crops. Unlike many sister institutions, we still have individual courses in Tree Fruit, Small Fruit, Vegetables, Viticulture, Permaculture, and Post Harvest Physiology. Combined with our strong emphasis in the ornamental and landscape area, our program offers a comprehensive applied and/or basic education in all areas of horticulture.
In spite of our reduced enrollments, our courses are highly populated. We have more students minoring in Horticultural Science than ever before, and our new undergraduate certificate in Horticultural Science serves many students who just want to learn more about gardening. Students can pursue the certificate both on-line and face-to-face. Our “Home” course series has expanded from a couple of courses to a menu of interesting opportunities including Home Horticulture, Home Plant Propagation, Home Landscape Maintenance, Home Food Production, and Home Landscape Design.
Our courses continue to be taught by award winning faculty committed to providing the best horticultural education possible. We recently added two new teaching faculty, Lis Meyer and Lee Ivy. Lis is coordinating our undergraduate certificate, and teaching many of our service courses face-to face and distance education (DE). In addition to helping with student recruiting, Lis is also teaching Plant Propagation in the two–year program. Lee Ivy is teaching numerous courses in the two-year program including Landscape Maintenance, Food Production, Diseases and Weeds, Orientation and teaches DE and face-to-face service courses in our four-year program. He is also heading up the advising of the PLANET Team with Lis Meyer and Barbara Fair. Lee has recently been named the Coordinator of our two-year OLT program and is helping with student recruitment.
Our program is facing significant change as we lose three faculty members to retirement. Collectively, these three individuals have contributed over 90 years to the department! Dr. Frank Blazich who has taught Plant Propagation in both the two and four-year programs retired last year. Frank was a faculty member in our department for well over 30 years. Will Hooker and Bryce Lane are also retiring January 1, 2014. Will taught in the Landscape Design Concentration for over 30 years and was responsible for growing it into the nationally recognized program that it is. Will also introduced Permaculture into the Horticulture curriculum and his course became a popular course for students from all over campus. Bryce Lane joined the department 32 years ago as a teacher in the four and two-year programs. He became the Department Undergraduate Teaching Coordinator in 1987 and has served in that role to date. He served as a PLANET adviser for 20 years and advised the Horticulture Club. Bryce has hosted a gardening television show on UNC TV for eleven years. The show “In the Garden With Bryce Lane” produced at NC State has won two regional Emmy awards for Instructional/Informational programing.
The new Undergraduate Coordinator will be Dr. Helen Kraus, who has been teaching in the department for over 10 years, and is ready to lead the growth of the program in the future.
The Departmental student organizations continue to be vibrant and active. Our Horticulture Club meets regularly and participates in many activities that serve both the department and the community. The Fall Field Trip continues to be a popular activity each year. Last year they spent four days in the Charleston, SC area. The honorary fraternity Pi Alpha Xi (PAX) continues to offer two plant sales a year. With the help from the Horticulture Club, PAX raises significant funds used to support travel, department projects, charities, and many projects that promote horticulture. The PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) Team continues to be very active. Since 1990 students have raised funds and traveled to the event and competition every year. PLANET Student Career Days is held at a different host school each year across the nation. Students have the opportunity to learn about the industry, network for jobs and internships, meet other horticulture professionals and compete in a “horticulture Olympics” of sorts.
Undergraduate education in Horticultural Science at NC State is alive and well, poised to meet the challenges of the future. Anything you can do to be an ambassador of the program would be appreciated. There are awesome career opportunities in horticulture and we need to work together to encourage prospective students to learn about horticulture right here at NC State!