April 1, 2019
“Why are we even doing this?” Landscape Ontario Seminar Coordinator, Kathy McLean had grave doubts about running a 2018/2019 education program while the association’s home office was being gutted and renovated. Dedicated to providing training opportunities, LO’s education team forged ahead anyway, to offer an ambitious program of winter seminars.

McLean has been pleased with the season’s success. Most seminars took place at Milton hotels, and practical sessions were held in greenhouse space at home office. “Registration was very good; our students want the sessions, and look for them,” said McLean. “The hotels came to understand our groove and have worked out well. Everybody has taken it in stride.” She said bad weather in February posed challenges, but she was forced to cancel only two or three seminars out of about 100.

As is typical with LO’s education efforts, the offerings generated great feedback from participants. One 10-year veteran of the profession did not expect to hear much new material, and was gratified to learn much more than expected. Of the classroom-style sessions offered at hotels, one topic generating a lot of interest was perennials. There was also keen interest from professionals in a day-and-a-half course on growing vegetables, taught by Jodi Healy of Mohawk College. Jeff McMann’s grounds management series drew close to 40 people. According to McLean, networking remains one of the most valuable advantages provided by professional development.

Some people did get lost, according to McLean, adding they often have trouble finding LO’s Fifth Line site during normal times. She went to the extra effort of emailing course locations to participants ahead of this year’s sessions, and urges participants to always check the website for course locations. All green professionals are invited to look for next year’s offerings in the Professional Development Guide coming in October.

McLean looks forward to moving back to a renovated home office. “Maybe we can broaden the scope of education, and maybe offer more during the fall or summer.”