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Horticultural Science


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What to Expect

Horticulture students know their plants. From wildflowers to trees, they learn to cultivate and care for plant life in a variety of settings.

Cindy Sobaski thought she knew a lot about horticulture when she entered Iowa State University's horticulture program. She had taken horticulture classes at school and worked for a local florist. Plus, her own mother had started a greenhouse and florist business.

What she didn't expect was the amount of travel she would do as a horticulture student. Sobaski traveled across the U.S. and to Scotland. She also went to Italy. All of these trips were paid internships.

Sobaski believes internships and work experience are the most important component of her program. She feels that it helped her to choose her area of specialization.

Classes and homework took up much of her time. She estimates that she was in school six to eight hours a day and then had several hours of homework. The amount of scientific knowledge required by the course surprised her as well. "You have to know everything!"

Jack McLaughlin was also surprised by the amount of science involved in the program, but he found it manageable. He was more excited by the courses he took in design. "Any student looking at a landscape horticultural program should take as many computer courses as possible, especially those emphasizing CAD programs," he says.

"You can still design a landscape on a piece of paper, but the computer programs make it so much easier and you look so much more professional."

How to Prepare

Sobaski recommends that high school students take as much biology and chemistry as they can. Also, get as much hands-on experience in the field of horticulture as possible.

Young Farmers or Future Farmers programs, which are available across the U.S., are a good place to start. Volunteering, high school horticulture courses and part-time jobs can also help you decide if this is the right career for you before you spend the money on school.


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