JCJC’s Horticulture program helping lawn care/landscapers earn required state license

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2015-07-30 15:50:55

ELLISVILLE – Some people naturally have a “green” thumb and have made some “green” by turning their talent into a business with the knowledge learned in horticulture classes at Jones County Junior College. However, some lawn maintenance and landscaping businesses may not be aware of a state requirement for doing business, especially if they did not get the proper training offered in classes.  JCJC Horticulture instructor Wendy Wilkerson advises her students and the public, if they are operating a landscaping or lawn maintenance business without the required Landscape Horticulturist License they could be fined hundreds of dollars depending on the offense. JCJC’s horticulture two-year or certificate option applies classroom knowledge of the lawn, landscaping, turf, and nursery business with hands on experience in the field to prepare students for work and for the state license test. 

“The purpose of the Horticulture Technology program is to meet the needs of the industry on all levels of training and skills. This applies to persons entering school directly from a secondary program or re-entering for specific training and/or license certification. At the completion of 32 or 47-credit hours, a student is eligible to receive a Certificate in Horticulture. If students complete the full 62-semester hour curriculum, they are eligible for an Associate in Applied Science degree,” said Wilkerson.

Hattiesburg restaurant owner, Scott Martin earned a degree in marketing from Mississippi State and owned two restaurants in Hattiesburg before he decided to expand into the lawn maintenance business. His love of the outdoors and cutting a couple of lawns turned into a blossoming and unexpected business very quickly. However, he desired to be more confident in his skills and looked to JCJC for help.

“With more customers came more jobs and requests to plant flowers and do irrigation,” said Martin. “I could trim plants and things but I didn’t know if I was doing it right and during the proper season. Now I have the knowledge and I can confidently give recommendations.”

Getting an Associate’s degree in Horticulture and the Landscape Horticulturist license, Martin said was not easy. He had to close one restaurant recently, while continuing to run Bop’s in Hattiesburg and then drive to classes in Ellisville. Martin and his wife also had two kids during the two years he was at JCJC. Nonetheless, Martin is now enjoying a thriving business as the “Lawn Ranger.”

“My degree and license allowed me to be confident about what I do. Since I graduated in May, my lawn and landscaping business has increased by about 40-percent. I wanted to do it right and I didn’t want to turn business away,” said Martin. 

Not everyone planting flowers or cutting grass is required to get a license, but the law limits how businesses can advertise and the type of services they can offer. According to the Mississippi Agriculture and Commerce department, a Landscape Horticulturist License is required: “for persons engaged in landscaping services and the setting or replacement of any plants. No person shall advertise in any manner, solicit business, place bids, enter contracts or receive a fee to render landscaping services and setting of plants without first obtaining a license. A Landscape Horticulturist License is not required for irrigation installation and lawn maintenance (grass mowing, fertilizing, etc.). Persons engaged in lawn maintenance shall not have the words landscape or landscaping in their business name for it is considered a form of advertisement for landscaping and setting of plants.”

JCJC 2001 horticulture technology program graduate and owner of Adams Nursery in Petal, Ricky Adams said his business doesn’t require the state Landscape Horticulturist license. That’s because the three-generation owned business doesn’t do commercial nursery work or landscaping. However, Adams said getting a degree in horticulture and earning his license opens up the possibility for future opportunities. 

“It never hurts to have a little more education and if we add landscaping to our business, we will need to be licensed and I will be ready,” said Adams.

Having a degree Adams added, even after working in the family business most of his life, is one of the reasons his business thrives. 

“Not a lot people stay in the plant/flower nursery business because it’s a tough industry. Having a horticulture background and degree, gives me an added advantage to succeed. Confidently knowing the answers to my customers questions, assures them.”

Adams said if you’re working in any aspect of the horticulture business, JCJC’s plant materials class is also beneficial. 

For more information about the JCJC Horticulture Technology program contact Wendy Wilkerson by email: wendy.wilkerson@jcjc.edu or call 601-477- 4172.


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