Men primarily work in the fields of landscape, design and maintenance. Change agents in the field, Brian Oleksak, chair of the Department of Landscape and Horticulture Technology (LHT), County College of Morris (CCM), and Susan Cohan, adjunct professor, and other LHT faculty are spearheading efforts for women to take advantage of the many opportunities these industries can offer to them.
Recently, CCM held The Women in Horticulture Panel featuring women who have made careers in landscape and horticulture. Moderated by Cohan, the panel included Carolle Huber, Morris County Parks Commission; Susan Olinger, landscape designer, Sterling Horticultural Services; Cathy Larson, landscape designer, Susan Cohan Garden Design; Leiron Sorensen, horticulturist , Trump National Golf Club; Amy Rovine, landscape contractor, Living Color Landscape; and Heide Taylor, manager, Plant Detective Nursery.
The panelists highlighted the significance of an education in horticulture and encouraged women to focus on management, grounds maintenance, landscape contracting and arboriculture, rather than limiting themselves to floriculture and retail. Other key takeaways were the bountiful job opportunities and decent salaries those fields offer. By tackling the stereotype that turf is just for men, women should feel empowered that there is a level playing field and their skills are viable.
“By holding this panel, we wanted to show that women can play many roles in the industry,” remarked Oleksak. “We recognize that women are severely under-represented in the green industry and women have demonstrated that they are equally successful at performing the jobs as men. We should see greater representation of women in the field.”
The CCM faculty is committed to increasing the number of women enrolled in the LHT program that currently is comprised of 84 percent male and 16 percent female students, which reflects industry standards. The CCM LHT program offers three Associate in Applied Science degree opportunities and four career certificates. The college boasts an exceptional state-of-the-art LEED certified horticultural facility that opened in 2012, and the department has a high reputation throughout the professional horticulture community. For students who are interested in landscape and horticulture, the CCM website at https://tinyurl.com/yaltfnpc provides a list of degrees and certificates students can complete.
“I receive email requests from the green industry on a daily basis looking to hire our CCM students,” said Oleksak. “The green industry continues to be a growing field where there are many job opportunities, including: landscape construction and maintenance, greenhouse production, gold course maintenance, sales, crew supervisors and crew leaders, and the list goes on.”
With continued efforts, panel discussions, and various opportunities, the CCM LHT is gearing for a sea change in the industry. Oleksak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Cohan at email@example.com.