Plant Sciences – Public Horticulture Concentration Major Guide for 2013-2014

What is Plant Sciences – Public Horticulture Concentration

Suppose you enjoy working with plants, and just as much, enjoy working with people and inspiring their use and enjoyment of plants. Do you also like photography, writing, public speaking and teaching others? If so, Public Horticulture would be a good career fit for you. Public Horticulture is the social or people aspect of horticulture. Gardening continues to be one of the top leisure activities among Americans, and as a result, there is an incredible demand for horticultural information and education. There have never been as many print media, television and radio gardening programs, or public gardens as there are today. Public horticulturists are the people who write gardening books and magazine articles, host gardening radio or television shows, and coordinate educational programs at botanical gardens or Master Gardener programs through the Extension Service. Public horticulturists also manage public gardens, parks, and greenways, and they ensure that our nation is conserving plants through managed plant collections and plant exploration research in undeveloped countries. It is important that public horticulturists be very knowledgeable in horticulture and plant sciences, and equally strong in writing, speaking, photography, teaching, and working with people.

Career Opportunities in Plant Sciences – Public Horticulture Concentration

Because of the diversity of work in public horticulture, you’ll find a variety of career options. Directors of public gardens provide the vision and leadership in developing their institutions. They work closely with their garden’s staff and board of directors in making the gardens economically sound and useful to the public. Directors of horticulture at public gardens develop plant collections, and create dramatic landscapes and displays with plants that inspire visitors about what they can do in their own landscapes. Directors of education and educators at public gardens create educational programs for both children and adults. They give garden tours, write educational brochures and literature, and create the interpretive signage throughout the gardens. They also write newsletters for their garden’s membership. Volunteer programs are important to botanical gardens and opportunities to create and lead these programs exist. You might enjoy being a horticulture teacher in a school or college or a horticulture agent with the Extension Service. Both roles involve teaching others about plants. With the right personality, you could get into hosting a garden radio or television show. Professional garden communication for magazines, the internet, or book publishers can be rewarding if you have good writing and speaking skills.

Salary Trends in Plant Sciences – Public Horticulture Concentration

Salaries for public horticulturists depend on the nature of the job as well as the region of the country and its cost of living. Graduates with minimal professional experience should expect starting salaries in the $30-45,000 range. If you can demonstrate your value to your employer and are willing to shoulder responsibility, often your salary may increase dramatically within the first two years. State, city, county, or public garden employment generally comes with attractive benefit and retirement packages.

High School Preparation

High school students should follow a college preparatory curriculum. Take your school’s recommended courses in math, science, English, and foreign language. Good electives would include courses in computer software applications, art and design, creative writing, marketing, and horticulture. Experience working on your school’s yearbook or newspaper may help you to determine if public horticulture is a good career choice for you. Participation in your school’s FFA program will give you opportunities to help organize and manage school plant sales and landscape projects. You can also participate in FFA’s state and national competitions in public speaking, parliamentary procedure, and horticulture.

How to Major in Plant Sciences – Public Horticulture Concentration

The Public Horticulture concentration is in the Plant Sciences Department. Our faculty and students enjoy talking with prospective students. A faculty member (or a student, if you prefer) will be happy to guide you through our UT Gardens and answer your questions about the department. It is important to declare the Public Horticulture concentration early (preferably at or before enrollment), to avoid having to make up specific required courses. There are provisions for elective courses to be taken in specific subject areas at various stages of your degree program. Students consult with their faculty advisor each semester about their interests and the appropriate classes to meet their needs.

Requirements for Plant Sciences – Public Horticulture Concentration

The Public Horticulture curriculum builds upon the university-wide general education requirements with critical courses in botany, soils, business, and social sciences, and adds a comprehensive set of departmental courses. Students are encouraged to earn a minor degree in a supportive field, such as journalism or education, to further enhance their academic training and professional competitiveness. While firmly grounding students in horticultural knowledge and skills, the curriculum emphasizes critical thinking and creative activity.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

An internship is a structured 10-12 week work session, usually in the summer, in which you apply what you have learned in the classroom to real-life situations while being mentored by a trained professional. Our students are employed in paid full-time positions by public gardens, zoos, conservatories, historical grounds, or communication organizations. Internships can be local but great opportunities exist to work in various regions of the country or even abroad. Many internships provide housing. All students in the Public Horticulture concentration are required to complete a 3 credit-hour internship. Your advisor can assist in identifying internship opportunities.

Highlights of Plant Sciences – Public Horticulture Concentration

Following are some additional reasons to consider Public Horticulture at UT:• A low student: professor ratio. This means more one-on-one time with professors for academic counseling and assistance with course work.

  • Opportunities for professional training in radio, photography, web-design, and writing.
  • Excellent scholarship opportunities. Public Horticulture students are eligible for scholarship money from the University and the College as well as public horticulture foundations and organizations.
  • A student club offering professional development and hands-on experience.
  • Numerous students have graduated and gone into great public horticulture careers in botanical gardens, arboreta, conservatories, the Extension Service, cable programs such as HGTV, highschool or college teaching, zoos, and city and park horticulture (see for examples).

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

Students are encouraged to participate in faculty-led study abroad programs sponsored by CASNR, which include Thailand and Jamaica. Other UT faculty-led and semester abroad programs are offered through the Center for International Education. CASNR does offer some scholarships for CASNR students participating in study abroad programs. Students, faculty and staff participate in the annual Unity through Diversity Dinner held each fall. Some students select a minor in Modern Foreign Languages and Literature.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, go to [insert link to catalog page here].

For More Information

Department of Plant Sciences
2431 Joe Johnson Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4561
Phone: (865) 974-7324



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.