Eco-friendly programs see increased enrollment

4 12 2008

Kara Bertrand
Life Reporter, Humber Et Cetera
Published: March 26, 2008

Humber’s environmentally friendly programs provide an advantage for graduates by giving them the skills in industries that lack trained professionals, program co-ordinators said.

“Back in the old days, if somebody got laid off from their job, they could buy a pickup truck, throw a mower in the back and call themselves a landscaper,” said Rob Gray, horticulture apprenticeship co-ordinator. “That’s fallen by the wayside now and they want skilled professionals to come in and do the job.”

Gray said his program only runs in the winter months, allowing students, who are employed in the horticulture industry, to earn money during the crucial spring and summer months.

“This program appeals to students because they’re getting more knowledge about how to cultivate the landscape, how to push plant material or how to sustain a landscape in general,” he said.

Gray said the horticulture program has had steady enrollment in the past few years. Meanwhile the arboriculture apprenticeship program had a 25 per cent enrollment increase from 2005 to 2008, said Patricia Van Horne, associate registrar of records.

Arboriculture students are also exposed to practices and situations that will help the environment, said Mark Graves, arboriculture co-ordinator.

“One thing this program does is it gets one working with nature, understanding the tree’s unique position within nature, how it controls pollution,” said Graves. “It’s a job where 90 per cent of your time is spent outdoors, spent working within the landscape, working with the environment.”

Additionally, a new environmentally focused program, the sustainable energy and building technology program will be offered in September.

Robert Hellier, co-ordinator for the program, said there is a great need for skilled workers trained in the renewable energy and the green building sector.

“What we need is a greater number of those,” he said. “We can’t rely on the ad hoc, informal process of people training themselves.”

Hellier said the program has a lot to live up to. “When you attach the word ‘sustainable’ to a program, you’re saying a lot, so we have a lot to deliver.”

He said the interest in the new program has been better than average and students who are attending are dedicated to environmental change and sustainability.

“They understand why they’re taking this course, it’s not just because their mommy has paid the tuition,” he said. “It’s because there’s some sort of internal motivation to it.”



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