In the fall of 2020, students interested in an education in turfgrass management will have the opportunity to do so by pursuing either a one-year or two-year certificate in Turfgrass Management at the University of Wisconsin. These certificates are offered through the University’s Farm and Industry Short Course, a historic program that has been going strong for over 130 years. When thinking about how to expand on our current four-year turfgrass program, we wanted to find a way to educate students in a compressed period without compromising the quality of the instructors or the course content. We felt the Farm and Industry Short Course, which runs from October – March, would be the ideal place to try this new idea. The faculty teaching the turfgrass courses will be Dr. Paul Koch and Dr. Doug Soldat, with other core courses and electives taught by more than 25 faculty and staff at UW-Madison, all highly regarded in their fields.
The turfgrass certificate courses will be offered over two 8-week periods, early-October through mid-December, and mid-January through mid-March. This timing works well for prospective students who already work in the turf industry and want to augment their work experience with their education. It also allows those in the two-year program to complete an extended internship (late March – October). These certificates will attract students from three main areas: 1) high school graduates interested in a career in turfgrass management, but without the means or desire to complete a four-year degree, 2) working turfgrass professionals interested in a certificate for career advancement, and 3) students that have earned a degree in a different field, but wish to switch careers.
The two-year certificate curriculum offers courses in introductory soil science and turfgrass management and a focus on communications, human resources, and the business side of the industry in year one, and specialized courses in turfgrass management in year two (Table 1). For students with good foundational education, we offer a fast-tracked one-year certificate (Table 2). This option is best for students with previous secondary education or who have been working in the industry for some time. We prefer all recent high school graduates to pursue the two-year certificate option.
As the program grows, we will add more courses to suit the needs of our students. That said, we feel this is a solid start. While I am not able to quote exact costs for this article, the cost of the program are completive with similar certificate programs around the country. Students housing is available, but not required, and the average student will receive $3,000 in scholarship support each year, with many awards ear-marked for turfgrass management students only. These scholarships will cover a substantial part of the total cost of the program. To apply or for more information, visit the Farm and Industry Short Course Web Site at www.fisc.cals.wisc.edu and/or contact Doug Soldat at firstname.lastname@example.org. The enrollment deadline for the fall semester is August 1, 2020.
Table 1. Curriculum for the two-year certificate in Turfgrass Management at University of Wisconsin.
|Year 1 Courses||Year 2 Courses|
|Introduction to Soils (2 cr.)||Turfgrass Nutrient Management (2 cr.)|
|Agribusiness Communications (2 cr.)||Precision Agriculture (2 cr.)|
|Plant Science (2 cr.)||Turfgrass Irrigation and Drainage (1 cr.)|
|Agricultural Safety (1 cr.)||Farm Power (2 cr.)|
|Weather and Climate (1 cr.)||Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides (1 cr.)|
|Business Principles (1 cr.)||Turfgrass Integrated Pest Management (2 cr.)|
|Agricultural Human Resources Management (1 cr.)||+ Electives|
|Turfgrass Management (2 cr.)|
|Total: 12 or more credits||Total: 12 or more credits|
Table 2. Curriculum for the one-year certificate in Turfgrass Management at University of Wisconsin.
|Year 1 (mid-October through mid-March)|
|Turfgrass Management (2 cr.)|
|Turfgrass Nutrient Management (2 cr.)|
|Turfgrass Irrigation and Drainage (1 cr.)|
|Turfgrass Integrated Pest Management (2 cr.)|
|Safe and Effective Use of Pesticides (1 cr.)|
|Weather and Climate (1 cr.)|
|Farm Power (2 cr.)|
|Total: 12 or more credits|