Eight Anoka Technical College students in the Horticulture Club recently completed a landscaping project to enhance the community solar garden at Connexus Energy in Ramsey as a community service project.
“We tried to go as native as possible,” said Amy Moberg, an instructor in the program. Travis Gienger, the Horticulture Club advisor who is a landscape designer and instructor in the program, designed the placement of the plantings to soften the grounds surrounding the company’s solar panels, she said.
Samantha Neral, spokesperson for Connexus Energy, said: “When we were looking at our community solar garden and trying to landscape it, we wanted to get the community involved. We have been a long-time supporter of Anoka Technical College, so it seemed like a natural fit, and we are very pleased with the outcome.”
Plantings, which were purchased by the company, included chokeberry bushes, cherry trees, shrub roses, sedum, and creeping phlox.
The Horticulture Club provides students – those in the landscape technology programs and others – opportunities for professional development and community service, Moberg said.
Demand is strong for landscape technicians, she said. “In the last few years, there has been a huge increase in the landscaping industry,” Moberg said. The college offers an associate in applied science degree, a diploma and a certificate in landscape technology and similar programs in golf course grounds management.
In the two-year program, students learn about landscape design for plants and hardscapes, such retaining walls and patios and are prepared for supervisory positions, she said. The students’ handiwork also is evident at the college with its redesigned courtyard and a water retention pond underneath the courtyard. “We try to teach them the cutting edge of the hardscapes,” she said.
In the programs, students study plant and soil science, landscape installation and design, landscape power equipment, nursery production, and plant identification. And they develop skills in crew supervision and management, propagation and production of plants, turf and plant management, specialty gardening and arboriculture.
As a community service project, Anoka Technical College students (from left) Ben Plautz, Travis Gienger, Josh Moberg, Jake Smith, Heide See and Jacob Perry complete a landscaping project to enhance the community solar garden at Connexus Energy in Ramsey, Minn.