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Inside JCCC – HSC (Horticultural Science Center)


Welcome to “Inside JCCC.” My name is Joe Sopcich, and I’m the president
here of Johnson County Community College. “Inside JCCC” provides you with a behind-the-scenes
look into what goes on in one of our over 20 buildings that we have on 234 acres here
on our campus. But what’s really important is what goes
on behind those walls. Our faculty and staff put on the best programs
possible that will ensure success for our students and help them in the classroom and
beyond. So sit back and enjoy and welcome to “Inside
JCCC.” Welcome to Johnson County Community College. I’m Sarah, and I’m a student here at JCCC. This edition of “Inside JCCC” takes you
through one of the prettiest buildings on campus – the Horticultural Sciences Center. You’ll find it abbreviated as “HSC”
on campus maps. The Horticultural Science Center is located
on campus near our restored windmill and a wood-peg barn that dates back to the 1870s. The building itself has the look of a bygone
era, but behind that façade are three greenhouses with computerized climate controls, a plant
propagation room with a laminar flow hood that has an airflow system to purify air for
plant propagation by tissue culture, a headhouse with 6-foot tall floral refrigerators and
a headhouse outfitted with large worktables, where students enrolled in a Horticultural
Sciences program, prepare planting media to pot plants for various lab exercises. More than half the building is greenhouse
space zoned with independent lighting and temperature controls. While the greenhouse covering looks like glass,
it’s actually a clear thermoplastic, which offers insulation and resistance to air and
allows an even transmission of light. Shade clots control heat gain in summer and
heat loss in winter. There’s no air conditioning. Instead, an evaporative cooling system is
used to retain humidity. When heat is required, electric fans distribute
warm air. For integrated pest management, an insect
barrier screen was added to the eastside of the greenhouse. Inside the greenhouse, benches are designated
as lab space for various courses offered through the Horticultural Sciences program. There are also benches for stock plants that
are used by horticulture students to practice various propagation techniques, by floral
design students to grow indoor plants, and for sustainable agriculture students to grow
seedlings, as well as a mist bench for the propagation of select species. In our commitment to sustainability, rainwater
is reclaimed and routed to a 10,000 gallon underground cistern through the sculpted sunflowers
on the front of the building, which act as drain spouts to rout water from the roof,
along a trough, through the front gateways’ two limestone columns and into the cistern. The windmill is again functional to irrigate
the outside gardens. The building houses three programs at JCCC:
Horticultural Sciences, Floral Design, and Sustainable Agriculture. I’m Lekha. I’m the Chair and Associate Professor of
the Department of Horticultural Sciences here at Johnson County Community College. The program was initiated in 2006-2007. Of course, the building and the greenhouse
were built in 2001. So the building and the greenhouse came before
the program. And the Kansas Board of Regents approved the
two certificates we offer and the associate’s in applied horticultural sciences in 2007. So it’s a new program. It’s about 7-year-old program. Other programs in this area, we are unique
actually, we’re the only Horticultural Sciences program in this area. Meaning, Greater Kansas City Area and Douglas
County. There are no other Horticultural Sciences
program in this region. As for students who enter our program, we
have traditional students, we have non-traditional students, we have students looking to further
their career, we have students with a 4-year degree, you know, transferring here from KU
or K-State. We have students looking to just take a few
classes with us. We have students looking to transfer to K-State
Olathe program, so our student population is really very diverse. You know, we have all kinds of students. And that’s — so that’s fun, you know,
because we have – you know, we get to interact with each and every one of these students
who are here for a different reason. As for students in the program, our numbers
are going up every semester. We have in fall, we had about 187 students
enrolled in various classes. This spring, we had 146-plus students enrolled
in various classes. And we did not offer that many classes in
the summer because then they can work all through the summer. That means they’ll make more money, and
it really help retention in the program. But our enrollment numbers are steadily going
up. But not all of these students declare horticulture
as a major. There are students who just come in and take
a couple of classes. To meet the requirements of all these students
coming in, we offer face-to-face classes, we offer hybrid classes, where lecture notes
are posted online and they come in just for the labs just once a week, we also offer online
classes. So we offer different formats. As for the curriculum, our students are taught
to grow healthy crops, to grow essential plants, to design and manage landscape, sustainable
landscapes, to manage golf courses, to manage arboretums, botanical gardens, community gardens,
small gardens, and, of course, our curriculum focuses on the best management practices,
which includes integrated pest management. We offer 19 different courses in various specializations
within horticulture. Our 19 courses actually cater to all these
different specializations in the industry. As you know, the horticulture industry is
very broad, very diverse, so, you know, our students are trained in different aspects
of this ornamental horticulture industry. So we are – you know, we are more geared
towards ornamental horticulture and environmental horticulture. As for the greenhouse, this is basically,
you know, the lab for our students. As you can see, there are three zones in this
greenhouse. Zone 1 is where all classes that require a
bench, you know, that have lab attached to the classes. And keep in mind, of the 19 courses we offer,
18 of them have a lab component to it. So that’s a hands-on learning experience
for our students. So in Zone 1, we have benches assigned for
various classes. So students, you know, since we use the same
textbook and lab manual as K-State does, students have lab spaces, you know, they do experiments,
they write lab reports. So each class gets a designated bench with
a color-coded label. So, you know, students learn to design experiments,
they learn how to collect data, interpret data. So that’s what Zone 1 is all about. It’s absolutely, you know, just for classroom
use. All classes that require – that have a lab
component gets bench space in the greenhouse. And Zone 2 is where we have – where we grow
stock plants for various, you know, classes as well. So students get to practice their propagation
techniques. For example, in plant propagation class, we
teach everything from grafting, layering, to even plant tissue culture, you see? So Zone 2 is where we grow all the plants
required for various classes. And Zone 3 is actually a propagation room
where we have a mist bench with an electronic leaf. So certain species which are very hard to
root, you can use the mist bench for propagation. So the greenhouse is entirely used for classroom
teaching purposes. As for the Hort Club, they’re called the
Horticulture Sciences Students Association. They are actually very active. You know, they were formed in 2007. The Student Senate gave us some starting money,
about $1,500, and since then, they have had a yearly plant sale. So every year, they have the spring sale for
sure – that’s a done deal – April and May, and, you know, they invite JCCC folks
to come and buy their plants. And as you can see, all the plants now in
Zone 1, that bench, is completely Hort Club plants. And usually we start around mid-March because
that’s when they have some bench space available. So, otherwise, classes use up the whole space,
you see? So they have learned to use whatever space
is leftover from class use. And then they grow everything from scratch,
and they enjoy the, you know, the feeling of getting together, interacting, learning
from each other, and just, you know, selling their plants and contributing to the scholarship
fund. As for faculty for this program, I’m the
only full-time faculty member for this program. I was hired in fall 2006 to lead the program,
to develop the program and market the program. And, of course, we have 13 of the finest adjunct
faculty members teaching for the program. They come from, you know, from the local green
in the streets, the EEOs of local companies, and also from K-State. And, you know, we all bring our unique strengths
and expertise. And our students are the best. And, of course, we have an excellent greenhouse
manager, as well. So it’s a very nice, cohesive team. We all work well really. You know, we all work really well together. So full-time adjunct staff. You know, we also have work studies students
in the greenhouse. They contribute significantly, as well. You know, we work so well together, and that’s
why this program is so successful. As for the Horticultural Sciences Advisory
Board, you know, their job is to advise us on curriculum. And the advisory board consists of members
from the local green industry, Kansas State University, and, of course, you know, me and
some of the adjunct faculty members, as well. If we did not seek the advice of an advisory
board, you know, our students, when they graduate, you know, they might not be able to find jobs. So it’s extremely important we work with
them, you know, to get their advice and make sure our curriculum meets the needs of the
industry, also meets the transfer guidelines for transfer to K-State University. Our advisory board members also sponsor Horticultural
Sciences Day. And, of course, you know, their sponsorship
money helps us raise, you know, scholarship – scholarship money for the hort students,
as well. And they’re extremely helpful. They’re involved, you know, in developing
this program, in marketing this program, and they are there if you need them, so that’s
so important for our transfer program. As for jobs in the industry, there is — you
know, it’s important that students find their niche. We have jobs in greenhouse production to nursery
management to, you know, plenty of jobs in the landscape horticulture sector. Of course, you know there’s landscape maintenance. And our curriculum is unique in that in addition
to the certificates we offer, students can also add – you know, they can also add on
a 7-hour business plan certificate that really helps them start their own business. You know, this industry is saturated with
jobs. And according to some of my colleagues who
work in the industry, there is a shortage of labor, meaning, they’re not able to find
qualified students, qualified, you know, students or graduates with good credentials. There are way more jobs than, you know, than
we have graduates for the jobs. And what is also interesting is the industry
is looking for students who can lead a team. So, yes, so, you know, this is one industry
with a shortage of jobs and the jobs are really well paid, but you really have to find your
niche, and that’s key, you know, to success. Since I was very young, I’ve always loved
plants. So I’m — I might be the luckiest few, maybe,
who get to follow my passion, you know, who got to follow my passion. I get to work with plants every day. I get to work with plants. You know, I have studied plants 16 years post-high
school. You know, I’ve studied different aspects
of plants. And there’s so much more I do not know about
plants. So I, like, I always tell my students, “Follow
your heart. Follow your passion. And if you do that, you will not feel, you
know, your career, you know, bringing you down.” So I’m able to come here, you know, every
morning, and I look forward to coming and working here because plants are my passion,
you see? So it’s important for my students to find
that, you know, that niche, as well, whatever makes them happy, you know. They should be looking forward to going to
work, and then, you know, feeling good about themselves and what they’ve achieved that
day. Hi, I’m Diana Ryan, and I am the Floral
Design Instructor here at Johnson County Community College. I teach the design classes. And we offer six classes in the program currently. I’ve been a florist for a long time. And when I went to school, we had limited
classes, so when I started this program, I decided to teach the classes that I knew would
be relevant to the real world. Students can complete the program, go out
and know the flowers, know the terminology, know the skills necessary to work as a florist
or open up their own business. We usually start off in the fall with the
beginning courses, traditional and contemporary. Traditional, kind of what the name implies,
you know, symmetrical design. Contemporary is more asymmetrical, Asian,
a little bit more unusual type of designs. And those are the basic courses that the students
start off. And then, it’s a whole semester. Three 8 credit hours for each class. Then the spring semester, we go into the more
advanced. The wedding flowers, the special events. And then I also offer a plants class, house
plants, you learn how to grow house plants. And all of those are three credit hours. They do last the entire semester. So a student gets a really good, broad knowledge
of design and plant materials. We have a wide variety of students. We have students right out of college, we
have students that “I’m sick of the corporate world. I’ve got to do something right brain. I’ve done left brain my whole life. I need to do something creative.” So we will get retired people. All across the gambit, we get women and men. And actually that makes for a great student
classroom because you get some experience of the older people that have gardens. They’ve grown this stuff, so they can give
us that knowledge about it. And then you have the young students with
the energy and the enthusiasm. So it really creates a nice mix of having
multi-generation, multi-cultures across the board. Johnson County Community College is unique
that we have the only floral design department pretty much in the area. There’s one in Columbia, one in Saint Louis,
Denver, but to get this kind of training, we’re kind of all that they’ve got. Especially in the State of Kansas, there is
no other program. And a lot of people say, “I always want
to work in the flower shops. I always want to work with flowers.” They go to a florist and a florist will not
hire them without some kind of experience. It’s like any trade. It’s like any craft. You have to know certain skills, and they
have no time to train. Our industry has built-in business throughout
the year. It starts off with Valentine’s, Easter,
Administrative Assistants’ Day, Mother’s Day, throw in weddings, special events, that
sort of thing, then Thanksgiving, Christmas. So flower shops are busy throughout the year. And you’ll notice that in, if you go to
the grocery store, the flower shop is always right at the front and center because it looks
pretty, people like it, it helps create an atmosphere in the store, so, yeah, it’s
a good industry to be in. We use the greenhouse here on campus because
of our houseplant class. We grow the houseplants. So students learn how to propagate, how to
take care of plants, they learn all the names of them, they learn about pests, diseases. So once they leave the program, they’re
very confident in growing plants because they take these plants home, and they get so excited
because they come back and tell me, “Oh, my spider plant’s this big,” and they
– they get – it’s really a confidence booster. We also have foliages in the greenhouse that
we trim on for our cut flower, for our floral design classes. The leaves of a lot of plants – aspidistra,
asparagus firm, spathiphyllum – all of those are leaves that we use in class. So we trim on them and put them in our designs. We have an awesome facility here. Great classroom. We have tables that are the height that you
need to design with. We have coolers to keep the flowers cool. Students process flowers every week, so by
the time they’re done, they know how to process flowers. And that’s a big part of the business. The flowers come in a box, they’ve been
out of water for probably 4 or 5 hours, we cut the stems, put them in the right temperature
water with the right conditioning and then they go into the cooler, and then they’re
ready to go for the lab that same week. So we get – we deal with fresh flowers. And the flowers that they study are also the
flowers they work with. And they learn about 75 plants and flowers
per course, per semester. So by the time they’re done, they know a
good 200-plus flowers and plants. Once they complete the program, those – my
students that have applied for a job, got a job. I probably have more jobs than I have students. People – I have a lot of shops now call
me all the time, “We need students for this. We need, you know, some of your graduates,”
because there’s always a constant demand, and as I said earlier, there’s just not
a training program around except for our program. So we’re getting a little bit more well
known in the community and prospects are very good. They can either go to work for a flower shop
or start their own business. I always recommend work for somebody first
so they get a little bit more experience, but I have had students that go out and start
their own business, as well. We also have a Floral Design Club, and that’s
in addition to the classroom. What it is is it’s additional experience
for the students, and we design flowers for other programs on campus, they have luncheons,
they have dinners, that sort of thing. And we also throughout the year will sell
flowers to the overall campus. We start with Thanksgiving and Christmas,
Valentine’s Day, Administrative Assistants’ Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day. And that works really well because then the
people on campus, they can order flowers online, the students have done it. It gives the students kind of that, “This
is what real life is about. You’re going to do this times 20. You’re going to make this design times 10.” So it gives them a little taste of what it’s
like in the real world. And then the people on campus love it, too,
because it’s – we’re right here. If anyone were interested in pursuing a career
in floral design or they just wanted to try it out, in fact, I get a lot of students that
thought, “I kind of want to dabble in that. Let’s see what that’s about.” So they start in and then they find out that
they love it. So then they continue on, and they say, “Yeah,
I think I will get that certificate.” It’s a great campus. We have the advantage being a little farther
away from the main campus that parking is not an issue, and that’s kind of a big plus. So and we’ve got a garden that we can pick
from in the summertime, as well. So I would encourage anyone, if you just kind
of have an inkling, “I’ve always wanted to do this,” you know, give it a try. You know, look us up under floral design. I’m Stu Shafer. I’m a Professor of Sociology and Sustainable
Agriculture, and I chair the Sustainable Agriculture program here at JCCC. Sustainable agriculture is the growing of
crops, using agroecology principles and methods. It’s not quite as rigorous as organic agriculture,
although we use most of the same practices as organic, but we are allowed to use chemical
or artificial inputs if necessary for economic or financial reasons. The Sustainable Agriculture program at JCCC
uses those agroecology principles and methods to grow fruits and vegetables on our 2-acre
campus farm, open peddle farm, and we emphasize directing marketing of those fruits and vegetables. So the students get experience in marketing,
as well as growing the crops. And we sell our vegetables and fruits through
a community-supported agriculture subscription program here on – that delivers here on
campus. We sell produce to the dining services on
campus and the culinary program. And from time to time, when we have good production
levels, we’ll set up a table at the pastry sale over in the Culinary Center, or perhaps,
other places on campus and sell our produce to campus community members, as well. We have a one-year certificate program that
meets every semester, and the primary, the foundation, course for the program and for
the certificate is our Sustainable Agriculture Practicum. So we have a practicum in the fall, in the
spring, and in the summer semester. So we get students’ hands-on experience
on the campus farm, doing the actual type of farming that we’re emphasizing and that
they would do in the real world when they go on. That’s our core program. To introduce that, we offer a Principles of
Sustainable Agriculture course sometimes online, and then we give students other course work
in a variety of disciplines, including horticulture, where they can learn about soils and pest
management, the hospitality management, where they learn safe handling of food and how to
cook with the food that we produce, and entrepreneurship classes. Classes are offered all – every semester
– fall, spring, and summer. The Sustainable Agriculture Practicum is offered
each semester. The Principles of Sustainable Agriculture
course is sometimes offered both semesters — sometimes fall, sometimes spring. The only course we usually offer in the summer
is the practicum course because of the time requirement for that. I’m the primary faculty member in the Sustainable
Agriculture program. It’s a new program. It’s fairly small. We have a campus farm manager, Claire Zimmerman,
who will also be teaching adjunct for us. And the other classes that are offered outside
of the department are taught by either full-time or part-time faculty in those respective departments. So Culinary Sciences or Hospitality Management
or horticulture classes are taught by faculty in those programs. We have at JCCC this wonderful Horticultural
Sciences building that has a very nice, state-of-the-art kind of greenhouse. So we teach our primary sustainable agriculture
classes in that building and use the greenhouse. We have a composting facility on campus that
composts dining services and culinary waste, and we utilize that compost on our – on
our farm. We have our wash station and preparation area
in the building that that’s housed in. And then we have the 2-acre open peddle farm
in the northwest corner of the campus where we grow all of our – all of our produce. Open peddle farm is a market-oriented vegetable
and fruit production farm. So we’re trying with that two 2-1/2 acre
farm to simulate what a small-scale farmer would be doing often in a start-up soft of
market-farm business with a wide variety of vegetable and fruit crops that would be grown
in that kind of operation. We don’t grow grains, we don’t grow soybeans,
other than, you know, edible, sort of table-type soybeans. The only grains and forage-type crops we grow,
we grow for what we call “cover crops” or “green manure” that are used for soil
management and development. We do have many students who do go literally
into the field. So they’re out actually working on their
own farms now. Some of them had family farms before they
came through the program and wanted to learn a different type of agriculture to use on
their family farms. Some of them are starting their own farms,
whether they’re rural or urban small-scale farms. And others are working in related areas. So we have people who work in advocacy organizations,
people who work with children, you know, early childhood or later education programs where
children themselves learn how to grow gardens and food. We have people working in agriculture supply
industries. But they get the basic principles and ideas
down, and that allows them to work in a wide variety of areas that are – that are related
to sustainable agriculture and sustainable vegetable and fruit production. I just saw a study or a report on a study
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that found that agricultural careers are the largest
growth area for – or the biggest opportunity for college graduates. So that’s very encouraging. Yeah, the demand for new farmers, as well
as new people in all these support areas, is – is really growing substantially throughout
the country, and we see that around here, as well. You do not have to major in Sustainable Agriculture
to take any of our courses. So some of our students are majors in other
areas, some are liberal arts majors, but in order to get the certificate, you do have
to declare the major in sustainable agriculture. But we’re certainly available for students
to, you know, take what they would like to learn from us and apply it in whatever setting,
whether they’re, you know, wanting a career in this particular area or not. All of the faculty who teach in the program
– myself and the faculty who teach in the other areas, as well as our campus farm manager
— are very active in our disciplines, and we maintain, you know, awareness of current
research literature, w attend conferences, we do presentations sometimes at conferences,
and we try to, you know, make ourselves aware of, you know, the latest developments in the
area of sustainable agriculture and agroecology. My favorite part of this job is exactly that
– diversity of students and the wonderful people that I get to work with in teaching
in this program. It’s just so satisfying to go out into the
farm field with students, show them how to do something, watch them do it themselves,
watch their faces light up, and watch the deep level of satisfaction people have when
they get their hands dirty, literally, and enjoy growing good, sustainable food. JCCC’s Horticultural Science Center is blossoming
with well-cared floor plan and students. Come grow with us.

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