Horticulturists: an endangered species?
“Not many students studying horticulture at my community college stay in the industry,” a horticultural instructor told me today. Since the comment was said in confidence, I will leave names and serial numbers out the blog!
But the comment did remind me of the list of 20 most useless college degrees (based on salaries, number of jobs available and general trend of crappiness) that came out in Newsweek in April this year. Horticulture and Agricultural Science had the dubious honour of being ranked in the top 5.
I discussed this issue on my facebook page…and I had a few people comment that they had a made a good living in the horticultural industry. I bet you a dime to a dollar that most people doing well in the industry are in charge of their own businesses. I know the industry, as well as the general public, doesn’t value or appreciate horticulturists. And we get paid accordingly.
I remember being told that working in the landscape industry was good work for the mentally challenged. This is the perception many people have … horticulturists/landscapers/agriculturists have strong physiques but very little brain power. Of course, it’s not true. It’s like saying that everyone working in the computer industry has no social graces.
I think the reason why the industry is attracting less and less people, starts with the negative professional image. Oh wait…it’s not considered a “professional” industry, remember. Only smart people can be professional. But that is just not true. Let me give you a few examples.
In 2007, ValleyCrest Landscape companies, a privately-held landscape design, construction, and maintenance services company in southern California, had annual revenues of 935 million dollars. Closer to home, one of my horticultural classmates, Dean Chudleigh, along with this brother, has grown the family business, Chudleigh’s Apple Farm, in Milton to estimated annual revenue of 7 million dollars.
Not bad for a bunch of landscapers and horticulturists. When it comes down to it, the public won’t change its views of the industry unless there an active push for industry leaders to change it. And yes, it starts with treating ourselves (horticulturists) and our fellow workers with more respect and better pay.
After all, horticulturists/landscapers are a valuable and exceedingly rare commodity, aren’t we?