AMHERST, Mass. - Jobs in plant-related industries are plentiful in the Pioneer Valley, so plentiful employers struggle to find and keep qualified workers in a sector of the economy that is experiencing tremendous growth, according to Katherine Conway of the Stockbridge School at the University of Massachusetts.
For the past three years, the Stockbridge School has hosted a job fair for companies throughout the Northeast that seek people for jobs in park management, landscaping, turfgrass management, tree care, fruit and crop production and business management related to so-called "green" industries. The 2000 Job Fair, slated for Tues. Feb. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Campus Center, is free and open to the public. Members of the community and UMass students in any course of study may attend and speak to recruiters about full-time, part-time, or summer jobs.
"The jobs are out there," explained Conway. "Companies might need seasonal employees to help manage turf at country clubs and parks, or urban foresters to maintain healthy landscapes in towns and at large institutions. There s even a need for marketing, accounting, and language skills, as well as people who can train others in the latest technologies used by some of these companies."
Stockbridge alumnus Tim Mercer, of New England Wetland Plants Inc., in Amherst, says he is looking for people who are not afraid of hard work and who like plants, whether they have experience working with them or not. The nursery propagates and grows native plants, mostly wetland species, for sale at wholesale nurseries, and for restoration of wetlands throughout the region. The company s plants can be seen growing at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Building in Hadley, and at Walden Pond in Concord.
Jeff Kent, turfgrass manager for the Atlantic City Country Club in New Jersey, says he needs additional staff for his grounds crew. He says he prefers those with turf skills and experience, but is willing to train inexperienced people if they are "eager and willing to put in the time." Atlantic City is small club that attracts many celebrity players.
The Stockbridge School offers an associate''s degree in arboriculture and park management, equine industries, fruit and vegetable crops, horticulture, landscape contracting, and turfgrass management. Graduates may go on to complete a bachelor s degree in a related area, or can begin a career in a number of high-growth industries. According to Conway, all 130 graduates of the Class of 2000 can be placed in jobs in their fields of study upon graduation.