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PLNA e-News: Expanding Knowledge

PLNA Creating High School Certification Exam for Horticulture

Wednesday, March 09, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Cathy Corrigan
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PLNA is working with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to create a certification exam for high school/vocational school level students enrolled in horticulture programs. In 2011, PDE created a program of study in general horticulture and 36 high school/vo-tech programs have signed on as partners. As part of the program, the students are required to test in a professional certification exam at the end of the program. The current Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist (PCH) exam is a bit more comprehensive than what a student can learn in a high school program, so PLNA is engaging a task force to review the current exam and extract questions that would support a competent base level knowledge in horticulture principles that is worthy of designating as an entry-level PCH.

PLNA staff has compared the PDE program of study with the PCH Study and Reference Manual and feels confident that the foundational competency task list required by the program of study mirrors those base level principles used in the horticulture industry. Therefore, a student who passes the high school exam created by PLNA can enter an interview with an entry-level professional designation vetted by the industry. This certification also provides the interviewer a point of reference for the level of knowledge of the candidate; no more guessing what exactly was included in that high school horticulture program you never heard of.

The overall goal is to get the industry more qualified entry level candidates. And the fact that these students have already attained an entry-level certification, they should be more apt to stay in the industry and pursue the next level of certification, the professional PCH.

PLNA will have the exam ready for this year’s graduates. All students who pass the exam will be recognized in the KUDOs to the New PCH section of e-News and the website.

After the first round of high school exams, PLNA will be working on the next steps of raising the profile of horticulture careers so we can get more students enrolled in these high school programs. Stay tuned for updates the progress of this project. If you are interested in more information on these projects, please contact Cathy Corrigan at PLNA at or 717.238.1683.

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