Students in the Environmental Horticulture and Floristry program love mother nature, love to get their hands dirty and love the hands-on experience. At City College they find the resources they need to develop their craft — excellent facilities and a staff committed to student success.
Thomas Wang teaches an Introduction to Environmental Horticulture class that teaches students basic lessons in nursery and greenhouse production, landscape design, installation and maintenance.
According to Wang, taking the class is the first step for students who want a remarkable career in horticulture.
“It can be in any number of facets,” he said. “There’s people who work for the city, there’s people who go work for big landscaping corporations. There’s people who are into growing food, people are into growing medicine.”
Wang said the horticulture program has a relationship with the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, the Botanical Garden and nonprofit organizations such as Friends of the Urban Forest, where students have the opportunity to plant trees all over the city.
He hopes that upon finishing the program students will be able work for one of these organizations.
Student Paolo Lembo is focusing on the landscaping maintenance and construction aspect of the program.
“I love nature and the environment, and I like to work with that,” he said. “It’s been a dream, and I never had the chance. I wanted to stay close to my family and at the same time do something I’m passionate about and that could bring work opportunities.”
Nicole Kastle, a flower design student, drives an hour and a half to City College twice a week from Morgan Hill to study what she loves the most: flowers. “I think it will be worth it in the end,” she said with a smile.
“I want to be able to basically put it on my portfolio, on my resume that I graduated from City College, and I don’t want to graduate with a D or a C and just get by,” Hill said. “I want to get an A and know I did get 100 percent in the class at City College and that I did excellent in it.”
Kastle said that at first she wanted to one day own a flower shop, but after working at one and seeing how hard her boss struggles to manage it, Kastle said she now just wants to be a flower designer.
“I just want to go to different shops and just go and design flowers,” she said. “We have a couple designers who come once a week to our shop and feel the cooler — that’s what I would be interesting in doing. Just being inspired and going to a shop and feeling that cooler.”
Floral Design instructor Holly Money-Collins said budget cuts have impacted the program deeply.
“Budget cuts are a huge problem for our supplies, and next year is looking pretty grim,” she said. “It makes a difference on the quality of what we can buy. Because of San Francisco’s weather, we can’t grow everything we make — that we use in design. The budget is scheduled to be decreased, and we don’t know how we’re going to supply the materials needed.”
Money-Collins says that the unique thing about the program offered in the Horticulture and Floristry department is the hands-on aspect.