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PCH Associate
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PCH Associate Program

Finding and keeping employees has continuously been a struggle for green industry companies. The industry continues to grow and shortages of skilled employees is growing even faster. Discussions with Pennsylvania colleges have indicated a severe shortage of students going into horticulture based programs and over the past decade many high school and vocational technical school horticulture programs were eliminated due to lack of interest. As a result, the shortages in qualified employees is hampering the growth of green industry companies.

In 2012, the PA Department of Education (PDE) created a program of study (POS) in Applied Horticulture/Horticultural Operations, the first step in getting students educated in horticulture. Less than 7% of secondary schools have elected to partner in this program.

A requirement of the PDE program of study is that the program is aligned with an industry recognized certification. The Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist (PCH) program is the ideal industry certification for the Horticulture Program of Study (POS). Accordingly, PLNA engaged a task force to create a “core” module of the PCH program that falls in line with the POS created by PDE. Both industry professionals and high school and tech school educators were involved in the task force assignment. The group, together, identified 100 questions that were already part of the PCH exam as those topics that meet the subject matter identified in PDE’s program of study and what the industry would expect a student in a formal hort program would know upon graduation and entrance into the work force.

Upon successful passing of the exam (80%), a student will be awarded a Pennsylvania Certified Horticulturist (PCH) Associate designation with all the credentials necessary to give them the advantage when starting their employment search. In addition to obtaining the PCH Associate designation, the student will become a Student Member of PLNA and PLNA will promote these students achievements to its members.

The advantage these students will carry is unmatchable due to the fact that the PCH program was created for and by the industry. And we and, hopefully, the students’ future employers will continue to promote the PCH program and offer assistance and/or incentive for these students to pursue the PCH Professional designation.

This “core” module exam is just the first step in providing a pathway for entry into the industry at a skill level acceptable by the industry.

If your school is interested in administering the PCH Associate exam to its students, please contact Cathy Corrigan at ccorrigan@PLNA.com or 717.238.1673.

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