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Plant Science and Horticulture

Grow with Us

Guided by a commitment to sustainability and service, the horticulturist grows the plants we eat, maintains the plants that bring us joy, and cares for the natural plants around us.

Not every class is in the dirt, but we do like to get our hands dirty in class. From the start of the program you will be engaged in hands-on learning whether in our greenhouses or in our campus gardens and farm.

Degree Options

Horticulture, Associate in Applied Science (AAS)

Plant Science, Bachelor of Technology (BT)

 

A degree in Plant Science opens up a world of opportunities in growing, sustaining, and propagating plants and ecosystems. Whether you major in the two-year Horticulture or the four-year Plant Science degrees at SUNY Cobleskill, the possibilities to cultivate your own passion for plants is endless.

Through the Plant Science program, we train students to be the managers and decision makers for feeding future generations and sustaining the plants we depend on. Managers and growers need a strong working knowledge of plant science to oversee the propagation, cultivation, and stewardship of plant systems. With advances in technology, hydroponics, medical uses of plants, and sustainable practices, the horticulture profession continues to change and grow.

At SUNY Cobleskill, the Plant Science program strives to train and educate in the most up-to-date methods of plant production and care while providing a foundation in fundamental plant knowledge, all allowing for appropriate implementation and decision making of advances in plant science.

The possibilities for a career in plant science is broad and the demand for skilled, well-paid decision makers only continues to increase. Currently there are not enough students graduating from Horticulture and Plant Science programs across the country to fill the jobs that are available. A degree at SUNY Cobleskill will provide the training for you to fill those positions.

Plant Science is more than watering and weeding plants. Careers within the Plant Science industry require specialized skills and knowledge of the science behind how plants grow and ways plants can be manipulated. Here is a sample of classes Horticulture and Plant Science students at SUNY Cobleskill partake in.

 

  • Soil Science
  • Entomology
  • Plant Pathology
  • Woody Plan Materials
  • Herbaceous Plants
  • Horticulture Crop Production
  • Floriculture Production
  • Fruit Science
  • Vegetable Science
  • Hydroponic Production
  • Plant Nutrition
  • Applied Plant Physiology
  • Integrated Pest Management Ornamentals
  • Floral Design
  • Interior Plantscapes & Maintenance
  • Environmental Design
  • Arboriculture
  • Management of Horticulture Business
  • Nursery Management
  • Greenhouse Management

Your skillset is easily transplantable, allowing you to take your career with you wherever life lands you. Your degree in plant science prepares you for a successful career in a variety of areas. The choice is yours.

Sample opportunities and positions include:

Industry Opportunities

  • Plant Propagation
  • Floral Design
  • Floriculture
  • Topiary
  • Hop Production
  • Restoration Ecology
  • Landscape Design & Architecture or Management
  • Turf & Lawn Care
  • Estate Gardens, Botanical Gardens
  • Nurseries, Conservatories, Arboretums
  • Pest Management
  • Medical Cannabis
  • Industrial Hemp Production
  • Crop Production
  • Plant Breeding
  • Garden Centers & Material Sales
  • Sales and marketing for seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, and equipment

Positions

  • Greenhouse Manager
  • Vineyard Manager
  • Orchard manager
  • Head Grower
  • Natural Resource Manager
  • Irrigation Specialist
  • Soil & Water Conservationist
  • Crop Specialist
  • Educator
  • Arborist

Students in the bachelor’s degree program are required to complete an extensive 600-hour internship (one semester) prior to graduation. Faculty work closely with students to mentor and oversee the successful completion of each internship.

Josh Serpe, The Davey Tree Experts Company, Boulder Colorado

“I got the opportunity to work outside my comfort zone in an unfamiliar area, not only environmentally, but socially as well. Many of the employees at Davey were impressed with my knowledge for someone who hasn't been in that specific industry. Internships are important because you gain practical experience while setting goals for yourself at the beginning as well as along the way.”

Josh did his internship with The Davey Tree Expert Company, a tree care and horticulture company and the 15th largest employee-owned company in the country with operations throughout North America. Josh was able to work day-to-day with certified arborists caring for and planting trees. In addition to the opportunities and skills Josh acquired on the job, he toke advantage of living in a new environment and spent a lot of his free time hiking and biking in the Rocky Mountains. Currently Josh is working as a horticulturist and arborist in the lower Hudson Valley.

Emilia Yoffie, Cornell University Industrial Hemp Program

“My internship provided a way of utilizing my recent education in real-world circumstances outside of the classroom. Throughout both my internship and other job opportunities, I have consistently relied on knowledge gained during my time at SUNY Cobleskill.”

Emilia Yoffie had the opportunity to complete her internship on the forefront of researching industrial hemp production. With recent changes in state legislation, an interest in growing industrial hemp in New York is beginning to take off. However, hemp has not been grown commercially in this region for quite some time and requirements for proper growth and management are unknown. As an intern for the Industrial Hemp Program at Cornell Emilia assisted with planting, collecting weekly data and notes on plant growth, and harvest. In addition, Emilia was responsible for educating the community on research updates during periodic field days. Having had experience on a vegetable farm Emilia originally planned to continue that experience with her internship but decided to step out of her comfort zone and complete a research internship on a completely new crop. Emilia recently received her own Industrial Hemp Grower’s license and will be testing her own research topic.

SUNY Cobleskill has Plant Science Alumni all over the country working in diverse areas of the Horticulture Industry. Here is a small sample of our alums.

Jenny Girard, 2014

“All the guidance I received from the entire (SUNY Cobleskill) staff stays with me every day and I can honestly say without a doubt I would not be where I am today. Cobleskill taught me was to believe in myself and to have great determination. I lacked the confidence in myself when I first started but by the time that I graduated I had the ability to not only believe in my dreams but that I could achieve them as well. I grew to have great determination and work ethic while I attended, not accepting second best, which drove me to be my best.”

Jenny Girard is the Horticulture Supervisor for the Topiary Department at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment – Busch Gardens, Tampa Florida. She is in charge of a 20 plus person team who are responsible for the construction and maintenance of 44 different permanent and theme based topiaries in addition to all holiday horticulture theming at the park. The park has some of the largest topiaries in the country including a topiary made up of over 300,000 plants. Jenny works closely with several departments at the park for event coordination and new theming design. Part of topiary construction and maintenance requires managing a greenhouse where plants are cared for prior to instillation, along with pest management, irrigation, and trimming. Prior to joining Busch Gardens Jenny did an internship at Longwood Gardens.

Ryan Harrison, 2016

“In addition to providing me with a very solid foundation in Plant Science, one of the most valuable attributes I gained from SUNY Cobleskill was the mindset necessary for solving new problems by performing research and applying related knowledge acquired from my classes. SUNY Cobleskill provided me with a vast amount of knowledge pertaining to plant growth and health, methods for operating a commercial agricultural business, hands-on opportunities to study and implement professional growing techniques, and personal interactions with outstanding professors who strive to offer an education that more than adequately prepares students for successful careers.”

Ryan Harrison is a Cultivator for Columbia Care in Rochester NY, one of five licensed medical marijuana growers and dispensaries in New York. Columbia Care is a multi-million-dollar company with state-of-the-art growing, chemistry, and manufacturing equipment and is one of the leading companies in the medical marijuana industry with locations in other states. Ryan takes part in all aspects of growing the plants, including propagation, irrigation, crop monitoring, and harvesting. Ryan works with a great team of growers who are constantly discussing growing strategies as well as planning and executing a number of different experiments in order to continue learning and improving methods for optimizing production. Prior to working at Columbia Care Ryan did an internship with Intergrow Greenhouses Inc., a large-scale tomato greenhouse operation in Western NY.

Katherine Everitt, 2013

“The professors in the Plant Science Department are truly the best. Their main focus is your education and that dedication was my favorite part of attending Cobleskill. I use pretty much every Plant Science course I took at Cobleskill in my current job.”

Katherine Everitt is an Environmental Horticulture and Natural Resources Subject Educator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Putnam County, NY. Katherine is responsible for planning and giving horticulture classes to the community, working with the Master Gardener Volunteers, answering questions on the Horticulture Hotline, and diagnosing insect and pest problems community members bring into the lab. Following SUNY Cobleskill Katherine did an internship at Disney World in the “Living with the Land” ride’s support greenhouse where she propagated plants for the four show greenhouses. After her internship Katherine worked for the Royalty Administration International traveling to greenhouses who ordered patented plant material to ensure the plant patents were being followed correctly.

Jason Jackson, 2013

“Great technical education from extremely passionate and proficient professors.”

Jason Jackson is the Plant Scientist and Product Manager for Re-nuble, a cutting edge company located in New York City. Re-nuble is a recently launched company that takes food waste from the Hunts Point Market out of the waste stream and turns it into organic fertilizers for growing new plants. Jason’s primary responsibility is to conduct product testing in a variety of hydroponic and traditional ag systems. Prior to working for Re-nuble Jason was a Head Grower for Bright Farms, a multimillion dollar greenhouse growing operation with a desire to grow food in the same community where it is consumed, Bright Farms finances, designs, builds and operates greenhouse farms at or near supermarkets, cutting time, distance and cost from the produce supply chain. Immediately after graduating from SUNY Cobleskill Jason began as an intern and then moved into a production supervisor position at Intergrow Greenhouses Inc., a large-scale indoor tomato growing operation in Western NY.

Curriculum in Plant Sciences focuses around providing hands-on experience in living laboratories. As part of this experience the campus boasts a 10 acre arboretum, plant production nursery, cut flower garden, orchard, vineyard, annual and perennial garden, golf greens, hops yard, 1,850 square foot conservatory, 8,500 square feet of greenhouses, and more.

Read more about each all these plant science "playgrounds":

Conservatory & Greenhouses        Campus Gardens