Frances Keeton, from Anstruther has just successfully completed the NC Horticulture course at Elmwood College.
Previously she had been working full-time, teaching conservation skills to adults with learning disabilities in Aberdeen. After careful thought, she decided she wanted a change of career and started looking at further education.
Frances explains, “I decided that I wanted to study horticulture as it has always been an underlying passion of mine. I had heard some good reports about Elmwood, and knew that the horticulture facilities were of a high standard. After a quick phone call, I found the staff friendly and helpful, which ultimately led to my application. I feel that going to Elmwood was the right decision because it is an important stepping-stone for my future career.”
She continued, “Although I had a clear idea of what I wanted to study, I wasn’t sure of the path I would need to take to get me into this type of career but staff at Elmwood have been great and given me a lot of useful advice.” Thanks to the completion of her NC course, Frances has now secured a place at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens and begins studying her HND Horticulture with Plantmanship course in the autumn. She hopes this new qualifications will be the final step to employment in the horticultural industry.
Elmwood’s Instructor Helen Bowie said, “Frances was a joy to teach! She has responded so well to lectures and produced some outstanding results. She’s also a born horticulturalist.
A great number of people enjoy horticultural occupations as their work or their hobby and frequently both. Although most people first thoughts may be about beautiful gardens, there are so many sides to Horticulture than just gardening. It provides the food we eat, the sports fields we play on, the flowers we give to each other, the plants that brighten up our streets and our homes, the great gardens that are our heritage, and parks that we use for recreation and leisure. There are many enjoyable and challenging careers within Horticulture and Elmwood can help students develop the skills that are needed for all aspects of this through training and education!”
The Horticulture Department has been established for over 50 years and offers a wide range of full and part-time courses, from entry level NC courses to HNC and HND levels, as well as many evening classes. Professional short courses and community education options are also available to support local industries and communities. The department is also a key implementer of work based SVQ training across Scotland, and offers a number of SVQ placements with the college grounds maintenance team each year.
The Royal Horticultural Society courses, offered by Elmwood, have well-established syllabuses and carry particular weight in the industry. They offer a good all round foundation in horticulture and Elmwood is well positioned to progress these courses, with lecturer Caroline Roberts gaining her RHS Diploma last year, backed by fellow RHS-qualified instructor Helen Bowie.
The College also has excellent facilities for teaching horticulture and recently invested over £100,000 to ensure that their horticultural education provision meets demand of the future. The completed development has resulted in the addition of two new classrooms, which are internet equipped and have smart boards installed, as well as a new dedicated soil technology laboratory and research & development unit.
In addition to superb facilities and teaching methods, students in the horticulture department can also take advantage of the college’s well established links with local businesses. Elmwood recognises the importance of work placements in developing good employability skills and so all students are actively encouraged to take part in placements outside of the college, to build experience and develop personal links.