For Kendra Snyder, hands-on experience in the green industry was just a part of her upbringing. She grew up around plants as her parents own and operate a nursery. She’s had a close look at the industry since she was a little girl, and her interests brought her to start more formalized learning at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
Photo courtesy of Kendra Snyder

Snyder graduated in May after pursuing a degree through the university’s Landscape Horticulture Technology program. “I like to grow plants, but I also like to design,” Snyder says. Her program is a two-year associate degree that starts with traditional plant introduction and botany classes, but Snyder says the hands-on things that take place during the later semesters are her favorite.

“As you continue through the program, you get into classes like sustainable landscape, learning about different aspects of the business, dealing with contracts, as well as things like green roofs and permeable pavers to keep the outdoors sustainable,” she says.

She’s has studied in hand-drawn design courses as well as courses that teach computer-assisted design, and she hopes to someday work at her parent’s nursery designing landscapes for its client base.

“It’s just where I get to let out all my creativity and (see) my designs come to life with the different programs we use,” she says.

Her well-rounded course work has her feeling very prepared for what lies ahead, too.

“(This program) is a really good way to get into the industry because you’ve seen a lot of different aspects because we also do things like a plant propagation from cuttings, or we create our own actual bedding crop and then we sell it,” she says. Snyder also has a passion for sustainability. She hopes to see more of an emphasis on it as designers make their plans for a landscape.

“Adding a lot more natives to the landscape, in growing them and putting them into design, that just creates a good sustainability for the insect life,” she says. “And then that leads up to the birds and it goes up from there with the whole food chain.”

Most recently, Snyder worked on a project that helps give back to her community. She and her classmates were able to assist in the completion of a memorial garden for a local girl who passed away from cancer.

“We’re putting the patio in now and then we’re going to have a green space around it and it’s along a creek bed,” she says. “I think that it’s awesome that we are able to give back to the community.”

Snyder says students were able to assist with the design work and give the contractors their input for consideration on the final plans for the garden.

As she enters the work force, Snyder says she hopes future employers see the hard work her peers are ready to do.

“A lot of the kids that I know are really hard workers and that they’re willing to put in the time and effort for the job to come out right,” she says. “We have a really good group of kids who are willing to work and stay the extra hours that we need to in order to get a job finished. With our generation, we do have a lot of ambition.”