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Program earns rare accreditation

The Dakota County Technical College Landscape Horticulture program wants its students to stand out. So although it was costly and time consuming the program set out to renew its Professional Landcare Network accreditation.

"We consider it vital," said Sherralyn Cox, dean of design and health and human services. "It shows that we've gone the extra mile."

The landscape horticulture program falls under design.

According to information from the school PLANET's accreditation program evaluates and recognizes landscaping curricula that keep pace with the evolving needs of the landscape industry. PLANET recognizes four-year bachelor of science and two-year associate of science degree programs that meet or exceed the stringent requirements of the accreditation process.

Getting the accreditation was no small task. The process included a rigorous review of the program's curriculum and staff. Additionally, a team from PLANET visited DCTC's campus for three days. The team was led by Kent Hammond, associate professor emeritus at The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster, Ohio,

David Emmitt, program manager at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, and Scott Frampton, co-owner of Landscape Renovations, Inc., in Afton were also members of the team.

The accreditation is rare. In fact DCTC is the only landscape program in the state with the accreditation, Cox said.

According to the DCTC out of approximately 560 horticulture programs nationally, only 60 meet PLANET requirements and just 26 have achieved accreditation. The accreditation will continue until 2017.

"We feel real special to have this accreditation and believe it will help our students stand out," said Cox.

Cox said the school focuses on creating programs that will get students hired after they graduate. She added that the landscape program has had great success because of the involvement of an advisory committee, which consists of former students and experts in the industry.

Cox said the faculty in the department are top notch and take a hands-on approach to providing quality education. The faculty includes Matt Brooks, Jeff Kleinboehl and Ed Plaster.

"The learning atmosphere they create was evaluated as excellent. Students feel prepared for their life's work through their ability to contribute to their new field. We have a 100 percent placement rate, which is rare in this economy," said Cox.

The program also aims to be student friendly. Many of the students work, so classes are scheduled to accommodate schedules. Additionally, she said, most of the classes end in April, so students can get practical experience working in the field throughout the growing months.

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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