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Horticulture Operations - Overview


Programs in horticulture operations prepare people to manage and operate nurseries, greenhouses, and other horticulture enterprises. Students learn principles of plant science and study methods of planting and cultivating trees, shrubs, and flowers. They learn to operate machines and maintain facilities. They also study the principles of business management, including the supervision of personnel.

If you were to own your own vineyard, what kind of wine grapes would you want to plant? Would you want to have a vineyard in Napa or Sonoma or explore the conditions in other areas such as the Pacific Northwest? How would you keep birds and pests away from your grapevines?

What about owning an organic apple farm? If you wanted to expose the public to the joys of horticulture, how would you do that with your orchard? How about an attached cider-making operation? Every fall, you could advertise your orchard to the public, inviting people to pick apples and watch them being pressed into fresh apple cider.

What about a greenhouse for raising rare breeds of flowers? Would you make the greenhouse a commercial business or a special collection for anyone to visit and enjoy? If you were in a rainy area, how would you design your greenhouse to maximize the amount of sunshine your flowers got? How could you set up your irrigation system to recycle the rainwater?

Have any of these hypothetical situations started the wheels spinning in your head? Do you have a green thumb with expansive visions of being your own boss and developing your own brilliant gardening enterprise? If so, you should consider majoring in horticulture operations.

Whether you want to manage a small nursery or a large horticultural supply corporation, this program teaches you fundamental principles of operations and management. You study plant science and horticulture, learning relevant background information on growing, breeding, and caring for plants. You study the effects of outside factors on horticulture such as water, soil conditions, and diseases.

This background information prepares you to focus on the aspect of management that most interests you. You could study methods for managing a nursery, a greenhouse, or a farm, to name a few examples. You learn to supervise employees and communicate effectively. You study the financial aspects of running a business, including purchasing and accounting. You also take courses that teach you about specific operational or management problems. For example, you might study irrigation techniques or how to properly store produce after harvesting.

About 60 schools offer programs in horticulture operations where you can typically earn either an associate or a bachelor's degree. In general, an associate degree takes two years of full-time study after high school, and a bachelor's degree about four. In some cases, you may be able to transfer credits from an associate degree program to a bachelor's degree program.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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