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Horticulture Digest

Date Last Edited:  08/24/2001

Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service

Horticulture Digest #101

Certification is looked upon as recognition of vocational and technical competence and is one mark of professionalism. Standards for professionals in medicine, landscape architecture, law, engineering, and accounting have long been established and recogni zed. Horticulturists have had no meaningful way to profess their technical abilities, training, or professionalism through certification. That is until now.

The American Registry of Certified Professionals in Agronomy, Crops, and Soils (ARCP-ACS) has developed a Certified Professional Horticulturist (CPH) program through cooperation with the American Society for Horticulture Science (ASHS). The ARCP-ACS has historically provided widely recognized and accepted certification for professionals in agronomy and soils. Their services and standards are widely recognized and accepted. Professional certification in plant pathology and weed science is also now available.

The Certified Professional Horticulturist program identifies qualified individuals and provides a Registry of those who have met the required educational and practical experience standards, that have subscribed to the code of ethics, and that are q ualified for recognition as professionals.

Why should horticulturists consider certification?

  • Certification is hard evidence of professional competence recognized by many other professional organizations.
  • Horticulturists dealing with public or private educational, scientific, research, or legislative and legal organizations or issues can benefit.
  • The designation of a qualified person as Certified Professional Horticulturist provides the long-awaited "proof" needed by many horticulture graduates working in industry, consulting, and in other areas where "professional" credentials are need ed or required.

Other reasons for certification, according to the American Society for Horticulture Science, are to:
  • promote and encourage professional development, growth, and renewal;
  • enhance the visibility of the profession;
  • maintain and promote high standards of performance by all members of the profession; and
  • provide a code of ethics for professionals.

Certification has some advantage for Hawaii horticulturists.

  • Certification can help develop professionalism in the industry and enhance the stature of the horticulture in the eyes of others.
  • It is also a beginning in gaining acceptance as horticulturists being a real and true professional, in the same way that landscape architects, engineers, and other "certified" professionals are accepted. For some reason, professional horticulturists a re held in less esteem than members of other professions with the same amount of education and background, simply because they lack "letters" behind their name.

Those with a BS degree and five years of experience, MS degree and three years of experience, or PhD degree with one year of experience are eligible. Applicants must have transcripts showing credit for the minimum core requirements ( Table 1) or pass a written examination. Graduates of University of Hawaii programs in horticulture should have no difficulty meeting the core requirements.

The horticulturist certification information and application brochures may be ordered from ASHS Headquarters, 113 South West Street, Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314-2824. The brochures are free. Considerable more detail is contained in the brochure.

Certification may be renewed annually for five years by payment of a fee (approximately $40 to $50, depending upon membership in ASHS). Meaningful certification is a continuing educational process, however. Certified Professional Horticulturists must subm it evidence of continuing education to maintain certification. In each five-year period, a CPH is required to accumulate a minimum of nine CEUs (Continuing Education Units). These CEUs may be through formal training, publications, presentations, or other professional activities. Every certified profession has similar requirements. Details on CEU requirements are not available now, but should be forthcoming.

If you are in a position where professional credentials would be beneficial, consider this program. The requirements and the costs are reasonable. If you wish to be recognized for your professional accomplishments, consider this program. If you want to he lp add to the status of the horticultural and landscape industry, consider this program.

Table 1. Core minimum requirement for 
certification as a Professional Horticulturist 
(from ASHS Newsletter).

Minimum CPH Core Requirements             Semester hours

Professional Core Courses
  Introductory Horticulture                     3
  Crop Management (z)                          12
  Pest Management/Plant Protection (y)          6
  Soil Science                                  3
  Plant Physiology                              3
  Biology (Botany, Microbiology)                3
  Chemistry (incl. one course in Org/Biochem)   8
  Genetics                                      3

Supporting Core Courses
  Mathematics (College Algebra)                 3
  Communication Skills (x)                      6
  Horticultural Specialization (w)              6
  Other (v)                                     6

z Courses such as Vegetable Crops, Fruit Crops, Ornamental 
  Crops, Greenhouse Crops, Foliage Crops, Floral Crops, 
  and Plant Propagation.
y Courses such as Weed Science, Plant Pathology, and 
x Courses such as Speech, Writing, Technical Writing,
  or Thesis.
w Courses such as Breeding, Turf Management, Plant Nutrition, 
  Tropical Horticultural Crops, Nut Crops, Viticulture, 
  Small Fruits, Processing Fruits and Vegetables, Plant 
  Identification, Nursery Management, Landscape Horticulture, 
  Arboriculture, and Postharvest Horticulture.
v Courses such as Irrigation and Drainage, Soil Fertility, 
  Soil Micro biology, Cropping Systems, Plant Protection, 
  Horticulture Entomology, Tissue Culture, Beekeeping, 
  Surveying, Finance, Marketing, Business
  Management, Accounting, and Computer Application.

David Hensley, dhensley@hawaii.edu
Extension Landscape Specialist

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