Landscaping and gardening in Nevada's climate is difficult. Many solutions that make for beautiful and sustainable gardens elsewhere don't work here, especially during the drought. As a result, people involved in the green industry, including landscapers, landscape contractors, nursery workers, arborists and golf course maintenance staff, need special training about growing and landscaping in Nevada's high-desert conditions. Unfortunately, green industry businesses often don't have the time or budget for training new employees.
To help provide green industry businesses with well-trained employees for a reasonable cost, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the Nevada Department of Agriculture recently provided green industry training, resulting in 30 newly certified professionals, including 16 University of Nevada, Reno employees.
Jeff Twedt, grounds supervisor II for the University, attended the training this year, and he had attended a previous training when he was owner of a landscape maintenance company.
"The training helped me financially in private industry because I didn't have to be in the field explaining what it is that we accomplish, how and why," he said. "I got so much out of my first training that I was able to recommend and get approval to send our University employees to this recent one."
"It's nice for the businesses to have a place to send people to get good training," said Heidi Kratsch, training coordinator and Cooperative Extension horticulture specialist. "Participants learned science-based, sustainable horticulture practices to manage plants and landscapes efficiently and safely, which will help green industry professionals to work with our environment and climate, not against it."
The newly certified professionals attended eight classes where they learned about plant disease basics, pesticide safety, soil, insects, plant identification and more.
"The University is an educational institution that supports professional development, and as employees, we like to continually educate ourselves," said Twedt. "Because of the training, we are all thinking on the same page and are able to speak clearly to the public about green industry topics such as Integrated Pest Management. The training also created positive, good discussions outside of the classroom."
To be certified, the participants had to score 70 percent or higher on an exam with questions taken directly from the classes. Certified workers must also continue their education to maintain their certification.
"Cost-effective opportunities to earn arborist, pesticide applicator and other continuing education units can be hard to find," Kratsch said. "This program provides high-quality information and continuing education units at a low cost. It also provides education and a certification that employers value."
Kratsch said that the training also ultimately benefits customers and homeowners.
"When green industry professionals are trained, the customers are happy, the businesses are happy, and Nevada neighborhoods gain pretty, long-lasting landscapes," she said. "Everybody wins."