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Horticulture Program Earns Civic Stewardship Award

Wednesday, April 21, 2021


Students in the Meramec greenhouse The horticulture program at St. Louis Community College has received the 2020 Civic Stewardship Award from the St. Louis chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Established in 2001 the Civic Stewardship Award recognizes public agencies, institutions, not-for-profits, and individuals who have exhibited stewardship of the natural resources, communities, landscapes and built environment of the St. Louis region. To date, there have been 31 past recipients of this award, including Great Rivers Greenway, the Open Space Council, the Gateway Foundation and Trailnet.

"The horticulture program is very honored to receive the Civic Stewardship Award from St. Louis ASLA. We are humbled that the St. Louis Chapter of ASLA nominated us for this award, and I think it really shows how horticulture and landscape architecture can work together toward common goals,” said Jerry Pence, assistant professor and horticulture program coordinator. “The benefits that we offer each other make for a better environment for all, and we are very grateful that our program and our students have been recognized as playing a role in making that happen."

STLCC’s horticultural program is the largest in the state of Missouri, with more than 160 students. The program successfully blends hands-on learning with lab components, changing and evolving the curriculum to adapt to market demands. Eighty percent of its graduates find a job prior to graduation as installers, designers, or growers, lending their expertise to built works around the region and beyond. Their on-campus experimentation with seeded landscapes, natives, low-mow turf alternatives, and different soil types enables landscape architects to learn and to evolve.

“The Civic Stewardship Award is an opportunity for us to stop, reflect, and recognize the people who have supported us for over 50 years, and will continue to be our allies as our professions become increasingly critical for the health, safety, and well-being of our community,” said Gabe Presley, landscape architect who nominated STLCC for the award. “The horticulture program at St. Louis Community College has been an ally in each of these areas since classes were first offered in 1967, and a Civic Stewardship honor would certainly celebrate that symbiosis – while setting up growth and evolution over the next 50-plus years.”

Rebecca Hankins, former student and current partnership coordinator with Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, noted in her letter of support that the STLCC horticulture program is a key steward of the environment, and is continually forward-thinking.

“As turfgrass management has fallen out of favor, they (program faculty and staff) have replaced that field in the garden classroom with a native bed for student identification classes. They have done a tree inventory on campus and removed all species considered invasive, while seeking to increase tree canopy diversity,” Hankins said. “They have designed a master plan for their garden classroom that addresses storm water management issues caused by runoff from the parking lots, as well as incorporating a prairie in place of lawn.”

The 11-acre outdoor classroom is completely open to the public, and labeled clearly, to spread the word beyond classroom walls.

The St. Louis chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects’ professional award program seeks to recognize excellence in the diverse practices of landscape architecture. It aims to reflect the careful stewardship, wise planning, functionalism, context, execution, and artful design of the cultural and natural environment.

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