Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training
Interested in hosting a trained horticulture apprentice at your business or organization?
Registration for the 2023-2024 Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training is now closed.
The 2023-2024 training program is now full. Please sign up for our interest list to receive an email notification when the program opens again in the fall of 2024.
2024-2025 Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training Interest List
2023-2024 Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training
The Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training is a 3-part, comprehensive curriculum designed to supply learners with a foundational horticulture education suitable for skilled entry-level positions in the horticulture industry. Developed with input from horticulture industry leaders, this program will prepare learners with the practical horticulture knowledge and skills desired by employers.
In Part 1, participants will receive an introduction to horticulture employment in Maine, including the types of work available, resources, professional organizations, and the soft skills needed in the industry.
In Part 2, participants will receive current, research-based horticulture knowledge in the foundations of horticulture (botany, soils, and propagation), food production (vegetable, small fruit, and tree fruit production and maintenance), garden pests and diseases (prevention, identification, and safe treatment), and Maine landscapes and designs (plant selection, landscape design and maintenance). This in-depth training offers participants the opportunity to build confidence in their horticulture knowledge.
In Part 3, participants will gain experience and confidence by completing a 200-hour apprenticeship. Utilizing the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired during the initial training, they will have the opportunity to work within the industry and receive feedback from the host employer. Hosts will ensure that the apprentice receives significant experience in at least five essential areas of horticulture employment.
After successful completion of the training and apprenticeship, the participant will receive the Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training micro-credential, and the title of Maine Horticulture Apprentice. Backed by the University of Maine System, this micro-credential verifies to potential employers that the apprentice has successfully completed a high-quality, rigorous training and demonstrated the skills necessary to be a valuable horticulture industry employee. Learn more about micro-credentials.
How to Enroll
We have a limited number of training slots available and enrollment will be on a first come, first serve basis. Enrollment for the 2023-2024 training program will open on Monday, October 2, 2023 at noon and will close on Monday, October 23, 2023 at 4:30pm, or when capacity has been reached, whichever is sooner. The course will begin on Monday, October 30, 2023.
This training program is offered on a sliding scale (self-selected). We strive to make the training accessible and affordable for all Maine residents. The course fee covers expenses including books, supplies, and other direct course-related expenses.
- $600 (Full Price): Suggested for those who can afford the full course fee.
- $300 (50% discount): Suggested fee for those who can afford 50% of the full course fee. Please use voucher code: 50_discount
- $150 (75% discount): Suggested fee for participants for whom the full course fee would prove a barrier to participation. Please use voucher code: 75_discount
- Pay it forward through our UMaine Extension Horticulture Fund! This fund is intended to help us with our goal of offering horticulture learning opportunities to economically challenged individuals at an affordable rate.
*Please contact us if these payment options still proves a barrier for participation.
Please note: Books and supplies will need to be picked up after November 6, 2023 at your county Extension office. Please call or email your county Extension office in advance to confirm their hours before stopping by. There is no rush to pick up the course supplies as they aren’t needed until further into the training. If you are not able to pick up these items, please contact course organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Refund Policy: 50% refunds will be available until November 6, 2023.
The training program will be divided into three parts, all of which are required:
- Parts 1 & 2: The online course consisting of approximately 60 hours of self-paced modules and live Q&A sessions using Brightspace and Zoom scheduled to take place from October 30 to December 17, 2023 (part 1) AND January 8 to March 17, 2024 (part 2). The Q&A Zoom sessions are scheduled for most Tuesdays from 6pm to 7:30pm.
- Part 3: The 200-hour apprenticeship will take place at an apprenticeship site that meets learning objectives and must be completed by March 17, 2025. The apprentice will be responsible for finding their own host site, with guidance and assistance from training staff.
Part 1 & 2: Online Course
Course Format: Part 1 & 2 of the Maine Horticulture Apprenticeship Training will be completed virtually through Brightspace, our online learning platform. Participants can anticipate approximately 4-5 hours of self-paced content a week including reading, videos and activities. Participants will also get access to live Q&A Zoom sessions with a panel of experts scheduled to take place on Tuesday evenings.
Course Schedule (tentative)
Module 1: Introduction
- Course Orientation
- Careers in the Maine Horticulture industry
- Resources and relevant professional organizations for Maine horticulture professionals
- Best practices for offering excellent service to customers, employers and colleagues
Module 2: Foundations of Horticulture
- Soils and Composting, Part 1
- Soils and Composting, Part 2
Module 3: Food Production
- Garden Maintenance and Food Safety
- Small Fruits
- Tree Fruits
Module 4: Garden Pests and Diseases
Module 5: Maine Landscapes and Design
- Plants for the Maine Landscape
- Landscape Design and Maintenance
Part 3: Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship: 200 hours to be completed within 1 year of successful completion of part two. An apprenticeship agreement will be submitted prior to beginning, and should be completed by both the apprentice and the host. This agreement confirms that the apprentice will receive significant experience in key areas while working as an apprentice. Both parties should also review the requirements of the Apprentice Evaluation, which will be submitted upon completion of the 200 hours apprenticeship.
Competencies: Micro-credential certification will be dependent upon completion and submission of the Apprentice Evaluation by the host, verifying requirements were met and the apprentice has practiced and is proficient* in at least 5 key areas listed on the evaluation. The key areas include watering/irrigation, pest management (insect, disease, weed), plant maintenance (pruning, division, fertilizer application, etc.), customer service, planting and/or seeding, plant selection and design, using equipment properly and safely, monitoring plants for pests (insect, disease, weed), and educational outreach.
*Proficient = can work independently without supervision to complete this task
Eligible host types include: landscaping, nursery (public facing or wholesale), farm, non-profit (ex: Audubon, Wild Seed Project, Botanical Gardens, community garden, school garden, food security garden), and grounds maintenance (ex: municipal, institution, private estate, golf course).
Sites that do NOT qualify include, but are not limited to: cashier positions (involving no direct work with plants), hardscaping-only positions, landscaping positions that are strictly mowing/weed whacking, and self-employment (as the goal of this apprenticeship is to learn from someone with more experience in the industry).
The online course will be entirely online on Brightspace. An email address, access to a reliable internet connection, the newest version of your web browser and an electronic device (i.e. laptop, desktop, iPad, or tablet) with video/audio capabilities are required to complete this course.
Is online learning right for you? Online learning is an accessible, affordable, and flexible learning environment that allows students to work around their personal schedules to obtain quality education. If you are wondering if online learning is right for you, please visit Online Learning: What You Need to Succeed.
Do you need access to a computer or reliable internet to participate in this training?
- To complete coursework: you may contact your local Extension office to schedule a time to use their WiFi during office hours (in the building) or use WiFi anytime from the parking lot.
- Contact the National Digital Equity Center for no cost or low cost tablets for Maine Residents who are of low to moderate income.
- Many public libraries have computers available for public use. Contact your local library for more information.
- If you are still unable to find access, please contact your local Extension office.
Accommodations: If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in this course, please contact us at email@example.com or 207-581-3188 by October 16, 2023. Requests received after this date may not allow sufficient time for the necessary accommodations.
We would like to thank the Maine Horticulture Apprentice Micro-credential Advisory Committee for volunteering their time and their expertise to assist us in creating this training program.
Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training Advisory Committee
- Sarah Scally, Horticulture Program, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF)
- John Pietroski, Maine Board of Pesticide Control (MBPC)
- Carole Neil, Horticulture Program, Maine DACF
- Lee Skillin, Skillin Greenhouse and Vice President of Maine Landscape and Nursery Association (MELNA)
- Amanda Couture, MBPC
- Don Sproul, Executive Director of MELNA
- Gary Fish, Horticulture Program, Maine DACF
- Charlene Gray, University of Maine
- Cheryl Rich, Southern Maine Community College
- Irene Barber, Coastal Maine Botanical Garden
- Laura Wilson, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
- Kate Garland, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
- Pamela Hargest, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
- Rebecca Long, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
- Mari Glatter, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
- Becky Gray, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
Micro-credentials are a new professional development opportunity.
The University of Maine System (UMS) offers professional development opportunities that result in a verified micro-credential for those who want to update their skillset. Micro-credentials prove to your current or future employer that you have skills needed in today’s workplace.
Micro-credentials can be shared on professional social media sites such as LinkedIn, or on your website or portfolio.
Micro-credentials typically have 3 levels:
- Level 1 is introductory information – covered in part 1 of the Maine Horticulture Apprenticeship Training
- Level 2 is the bulk of the material – covered in part 2 of the Maine Horticulture Apprenticeship Training
- Level 3 is a hands-on way to reinforce the material – covered in part 3 of the Maine Horticulture Apprenticeship Training
Source: The micro-credential information above was copied or adapted from the University of Maine System Micro-Credentials webpage.
Which horticulture program is right for you?
We currently offer three horticulture programs to meet your needs.
- Maine Gardener Training: Designed for gardeners who desire a foundation in basic horticulture education and skills for personal use. Recommended for those who would like to access the educational content of the Master Gardener Volunteer training program but do not plan to volunteer.
- Maine Horticulture Apprentice Training: Designed for learners interested in exploring a career in horticulture, whether an entry level employee, a high school student, or those interested in changing their career path, it is designed to supply learners with a foundational horticulture education suitable for skilled entry-level positions in the horticulture industry. Developed with input from horticulture industry leaders, this program will prepare learners with the practical horticulture knowledge and skills desired by employers and earn a University of Maine micro-credential.
- Master Gardener Volunteer Training: Designed to educate gardeners with research-based horticulture knowledge and train them as volunteers to share their knowledge in their local communities. Any Maine resident interested in studying horticulture and volunteering in community gardening projects is encouraged to apply. There is an application process for this program.
Still not sure which one is for you? Visit Which Horticulture Training is Right for You
For information about our other horticulture training programs, please visit the Master Gardener Volunteer website, for those who would like to give back to their communities while receiving a discount on the training, and the Maine Gardener Training website.