Strengthening Floriculture Academic Programs through Student Enterprising, Institutional Commitment, Industry Support, and Competitive Grants

in HortScience
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  • 1 New Mexico State Univ., Agronomy and Horticulture, Las Cruces, NM 88003
  • | 2 New Mexico State Univ., Agronomy and Horticulture, Las Cruces, NM 88003

Floriculture, among the fastest-growing agricultural segments in New Mexico, is creating job opportunities for graduates. Limited faculty resources restrict growth in floriculture academic programs, particularly for curricular modernization, extracurricular activities, and capacity building of the student:industry relationship. Federal funding has provided a Program Coordinator to lead our floriculture academic programs, responsible for raising technical quality of floriculture courses, recruitment and retention of undergraduates, and establishment of regional alliances with industry to exploit job opportunities. During the first year of the program (2003), deliverable products included course modules, fund raising protocols, and public school workshops. Results demonstrate an affinity for students of Hispanic origin to the program (over 40% of enrollments). Industry support included over a 2-fold increase in 2003 horticultural internship placements, financial aid, and donations of expendable materials. Floriculture student participation in intra-campus governance and off-campus community service projects also defrayed program costs and resulted in institutional gain. Over 80% of the 25 students enrolled in the beginning floral design and floral crops judging class agreed or agreed strongly that they had an obligation to engage in fund raising efforts to strengthen the floriculture academic program. Our intent is to build the floriculture teaching program into a template that can be replicated into the future through sustained institutional commitment. The program can serve as a model for other academic departments seeking diversification of horticulture academic programs and recruitment of a diverse student body, but struggling with limited human resources.

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