Durham College and Parkwood announce new partnership

Durham College and Parkwood National Historic Site (Parkwood) have announced a new partnership that will see them work together to develop and deliver educational curricula for the college’s new two-year Horticulture Technician diploma program, which is offered through the School of Science & Engineering Technology and launching in September 2012.

Developed with support from the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association (LOHTA), a vibrant association representing over 2,000 horticultural professionals, the collaboration will help Parkwood support and expand its ongoing preservation program; enhance community awareness; pursue partnership grant opportunities; and create additional horticultural jobs while enabling the college to increase placement and co-op opportunities for students.

“The program is a huge boost to Parkwood’s mission to preserve its outstanding heritage resources and provide quality opportunities for education and enjoyment. Historic gardens and horticultural training are such a natural fit,” said Brian Malcolm, executive director, Parkwood. “The program is exciting, adding depth to Parkwood’s educational programming and the value of its historic resources and paying tribute to the educational and philanthropic legacy of Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin, through the very gardens they created together. We really look forward to continued collaboration with Durham College in creating a unique and rich learning environment for students.”

The partnership, announced during an event held at Parkwood on February 29, will provide students enrolled in the Horticulture Technician program for the 2012-2013 academic year with an opportunity to hone their skills through training and study at Parkwood’s historic gardens and greenhouses in addition to their regular schooling at the college’s Oshawa campus. This includes access to the estate’s specialty plants and collections, period research and more. In addition, Parkwood will provide professional expertise, student lecture and study space and lab settings.

“Durham College’s new Horticulture Technician program is designed to meet the rapidly growing interest in contemporary landscaping, gardening and urban agriculture,” said Don Lovisa, president, Durham College. “We are thrilled to be able to provide our incoming students with this training opportunity at one of the finest historic gardens of the 20th century, enabling them to expand their skill sets and gain additional experience in a living lab environment that is unique to college programs in Ontario.”

The college will provide instructional and human resources to Parkwood in conjunction with the Horticulture Technician program along with volunteering opportunities for students to assist with the estate’s preservation program, which is designed to rejuvenate and preserve the architectural and horticultural features of its gardens and grounds.

LOHTA played a key role in the development of the partnership and the new Horticulture Technician program itself including providing assistance with program development and offering insight into current employer demands.

“We are extremely committed to the development of new programs designed to meet the demands of the current job market while remaining dedicated to delivering the best possible education to students,” added Lovisa. “This new partnership will allow us to work directly with Parkwood’s experts in the horticulture field to develop our program curricula while providing new and exciting ways for students to gain the up-to-date skills required by today’s employers.”