Environment Horticulture and Turfgrass Management

  • What is Environmental Horticulture and Turfgrass Management?

    thefield (1)Environmental Horticulture and Turfgrass Management, aspects of the science and practice of Horticulture, focus on the production, establishment and maintenance of flowers, trees, shrubs, and turfgrass for human enjoyment. Our other major, Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems focuses on the production of grain, fruits, berries, nuts, and vegetables as well as aspects of animal management and human nutrition.

    General topics of study include:

    • Management
    • Nutrition
    • Reproduction
    • Behavior
    • Health and Welfare

    This program offers many opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience both at URI and through summer internships. Many students work assist with faculty research, or set up projects of their own. There are so many opportunities in the “green industry” that virtually all majors are employed right after graduation. Horticulture is a great career for people who love working with both plants and people, as scientists, growers or landscape professionals.

    Important Topics and Issues

    Some of the important topics and issues in horticulture focus on sustainability achieved by reducing the need for inputs such as water, fertilizer, and pesticides. This involves continually learning and adjusting to select superior plants, maintaining excellent soil quality, and knowing and addressing pest and other issues quickly and professionally. Invasive exotic plants and pests provide frequent challenges to be addressed by knowledgeable horticulturists. All aspects of horticulture require up-to-date technical knowledge of how plants grow and how they respond to their environment – hence horticulture is very much a life-long learning career.

  • What are my career options in this field?

    employmentMany lifelong employment opportunities are available to environmental horticulture and turfgrass management students. The field of horticultural science is very diverse with nearly unlimited career opportunities in a variety of job settings. Every student has different strengths and passions – so, with a good foundation in plant science, the career possibilities really are limited only by your imagination. The majority of horticultural positions require a minimum of either a two- or four-year college degree. However, educational requirements can vary greatly, depending on the level of expertise required for the position. Some positions require specialized technical or professional training in addition to the college degree.

    Professional horticulturists share a love of plants and a desire to work with people who also care about plants and their environment. Some career possibilities include: Agricultural Business Consultant, Arboretum or Botanical Garden horticulturist, Arborist, Urban Forester, Botanist or Plant Biologist, Educator, Extension Agent, Floriculturist or Floral Designer, Garden Center Owner or Manager, Greenhouse Manager, Grower, Plant Producer or Farmer, Horticultural Consultant, Horticultural Scientist or Technician, Horticultural Therapist, Interior Landscaper, Irrigation Specialist, Landscape Contractor, Landscape Designer, Landscape Gardener, Groundskeeper or Grounds Manager, Lawn Care Specialist, Nurseryman or Nursery Manager, Plant Breeder and Geneticist, Plant Diagnostician, Plant Inspector, Plant Pathologist or Plant Health Care Specialist, Plant Propagator, Pomologist, Sales Representative, or Turfgrass Manager.

    For detailed information on careers in this field, go to the Careers Tab.

  • Is this field for me?

    besuccessfulAcademic Strengths Students pursuing careers in horticulture or turfgrass management need to have an aptitude for the basic sciences (biology, chemistry, plant physiology) which form the pre-professional core curriculum. These courses prepare the student to succeed in learning plants and knowing how they function and respond to management practices and environmental and biotic stressors.

    Personal Qualities To succeed in a career as a horticulturist or turfgrass manager you obviously should love working with plants and people. It also helps to love working in the outdoors, to have a strong work ethic, a desire for lifelong learning, and an aptitude for solving complicated plant and environmental problems.

    Job Market The job market for horticulturists and turfgrass managers is strong and likely to continue growing in the future. Virtually all our graduates are employed immediately after graduation. The field is so diverse that if one area weakens due to the economy, another related area is likely on the upswing. For example, vegetable and fruit production are rapidly growing areas. In general, people who know a lot about plants will always be in demand.

    For more information about job opportunities, go to the Careers Tab.

  • How do I prepare for a career in this field?

    getpreparedHigh School – While in high school it is important for you to take as many science courses as possible to prepare you for college-level science courses. It is also advisable to start exploring different plant science related careers by working or volunteering for garden centers, golf courses, nurseries, arborists, farms, etc.

    College – While in college you will need to take general foundation courses as well as courses specific to the major. You should become familiar with all the career possibilities that are open to you and explore opportunities for hands-on experience. In addition, you should take elective courses in the areas that interest you most. It is vital for you to build your resume with relevant job experiences, strong recommendations from employers and professors, experiential learning opportunities that broaden your skill set and worldview, and leadership roles in student and professional organizations.

    For more detailed information about the courses available in this field, go to the Curriculum Tab.

    For more detailed information about experiential learning in this field, go to the Experiential Learning Tab.

    Graduate School – Depending on your career goals, you may need to attend graduate school after you earn your undergraduate degree. Below are examples of the types of graduate degrees needed for certain careers in plant science:

    • Plant Health Care Specialist – Master’s degree in plant pathology or entomology (two-years)
    • Research scientist – Master’s (two-years) or Doctoral (three- to five-years)
    • University professor – Doctoral (three- to five-years)
    • High school teacher – Master’s of Education (one- to two-years)

    For more information about graduate schools in this program, go to the Graduate Studies Tab.

  • What will I know and be able to do when I graduate?

    knowledgeandskillsThe knowledge and skills required to work in the plant sciences will vary depending on your area of focus. However, all plant scientists should have a strong foundation in the biological sciences and understand how they apply to plant culture. By the time you complete your degree you will have general knowledge of the environmental horticulture and turfgrass management fields along with specific knowledge of plant physiology, plant materials, and plant health care. Once you have chosen your area of focus you may want to gain more in-depth knowledge in that area through enrollment in advanced courses and involvement in experiential learning opportunities. Throughout your undergraduate career you will have numerous opportunities to gain hands-on experience. A small sampling of the areas in which you will gain skills are listed below:

    • plant identification
    • plant propagation and production
    • landscape plant establishment
    • landscape plant management
    • plant breeding and genetics
    • plant nutrition and physiology

    Professors at URI use learning outcomes statements to identify the specific knowledge and skill elements that students gain through classes and related field experiences. Correlating learning outcomes with courses will show you what knowledge and skills you will acquire in each class you take.

  • Where can I find more information?
    • resourcesAmerican Nursery and Landscape Association
      The American Nursery & Landscape Association provides education, research, public relations, and representation services to the nursery and landscape industry. Members grow, distribute, and retail plants of all types, and design and install landscapes for residential and commercial customers.
    • American Society of Horticulture Science
      ASHS supports science for specialty crops: global solutions for nutritious food sources and healthy, beautiful environments. ASHS members include researchers, faculty and other educational personnel, extension agents, Federal and state experiment station representatives, and growers and distributors of horticultural products. ASHS supports students through meetings, scholarships, and national-level competition among schools.
    • Golf Course Superintendents Association of America
      The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America is the professional association for the men and women who manage and maintain the game’s most valuable resource – the golf course. Today, GCSAA and its members are recognized by the golf industry as one of the key contributors in elevating the game and business to its current state. GCSAA supports students through the annual Education Conference “Turf Bowl” and job networking.
    • Professional Landcare Network (PLANET)
      The Professional Landcare Network cultivates and safeguards opportunities for our members – the dedicated professionals and companies who create and enhance the world’s landscapes. PLANET supports students through the national-level competition among students and among schools – Student Career Days.
    • Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association
      The Rhode Island Nursery & Landscape Association is a professional trade association serving the green industry. RINLA advances the welfare of its members through education, research support, legislative representation, certification, and promotion of the value of green industry goods and services to the public.
    • URI Websites of Interest: HortTurfNews, GreenJobsNE.org
      The Rhode Island Nursery & Landscape Association is a professional trade association serving the green industry. RINLA advances the welfare of its members through education, research support, legislative representation, certification, and promotion of the value of green industry goods and services to the public.
  • Who can I contact for more information?

    contactsDr. Nathaniel Mitkowski
    Title: Associate Professor and University College Advisor, Department of Plant Sciences and Entomology
    Tel: (401) 874-5996
    Email: mitkowski@uri.edu