March 6 2020 09:40 AM

Series is targeted at entry-level or seasonal landscape employees.

Penn State Extension is offering a new online workforce training series aimed at new and seasonal landscape industry employees, according to an article by the Courier Express. The series consists of six online courses and is targeted at entry-level or seasonal landscape employees. The courses provide training in the subjects and areas that employees need to get started. Business owners can register their employees to take the online training as part of their onboarding process.

The “Employee Landscape Training” series includes: Pruning Basics; New Lawn Establishment; Planting; Mulching and Watering; Symptoms and Signs of Plant Health Problems; and Introduction to Soils. The final course, Reading Landscape Plans, will be available in April.

“Workforce training videos and knowledge-check questions show beginning workers how to accomplish basic landscaping tasks and supply them with the knowledge to do their jobs,” says Ruth Benner, the extension educator who is coordinating the course series. “Each of the six online courses has a quiz at the end, and participants will need to achieve a passing score to receive a certificate of completion.”

Dan Eichenlaub, owner-operator of Pittsburgh landscape company Eichenlaub Inc. and past president of the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association, consulted with Penn State Extension in creating the series to be sure it addressed the landscape industry’s needs.

“By training new employees online, we want to help landscaping companies realize a return sooner than in the past,” Eichenlaub says. “For years in our industry, it was all on-the-job training – new employees would shadow the owner or an experienced employee and learn what to do. It took months. But companies don’t have that kind of timeframe anymore, and small companies often do not have anyone to act as a trainer.”

Eichenlaub and PLNA are working with Penn State Extension in developing a second round of online training for landscape company employees intended to build on the initial series.

Brent Hales, Penn State Extension director, says this industry-extension partnership demonstrates the continued value of the land-grant university model.

“Penn State Extension actively engages industry to ensure we are meeting the current needs of businesses and communities across the commonwealth,” says Hales. “We provide face-to-face and online education to our stakeholders to address problems and advance opportunities.”