By Gail Pope
Alice Power was awarded the Horticultural Educator of the Year Award by Landscape Ontario in 2021 for her steadfast support and advocacy of the landscape and horticulture profession.
For over a decade, Power has worked for Skilled Trades Ontario (previously called the Ontario College of Trades) where she has spearheaded projects including the development of training standards, curriculum and examinations for the Horticultural Technician 441C Apprenticeship Program, and provided support for the Red Seal Program at the national level.
What makes horticulture education so important to you?
I don’t think the general public realizes the amount of skill and knowledge that is required to become a professional in this sector, as is the case with many trades. The amount of knowledge is just phenomenal. Just think about the number of plants that need to be identified by a horticultural technician or the amount of tree species that an arborist must know how to identify. Or the knowledge to manage plant health and growing conditions, manage pests and diseases. Then there are also the skills needed for hardscaping and implementation of green infrastructure. That’s why education is so important — it supports this knowledge and skill development of the sector.
Do you think horticulture has a bright future in Ontario?
Absolutely! With an increased society awareness of climate change and the health and wellness benefits of green spaces, the public and government is seeking the leadership and expertise of this trade. Municipalities understand the value of learning from this trade in helping them take steps in vital areas such as storm management and other climate mitigation strategies. Just think about how much greenspaces have made a difference to our mental health during the pandemic and how many people wanted to enhance their outdoor living spaces. People are starting to realize the value of this sector and I think that this is only going to get better.
What does winning this award mean to you?
To be recognized in a sector that I love so much is incredible, I feel quite emotional. And really, it is about the relationships that are forged with people in the trade, the experts. They are the ones that help me create the products, including the training standards and assessment tools. It is a collaboration using my skills to develop training standards and their content knowledge. I feel so fortunate to have an opportunity to work with people from this vital sector, with whom I enjoy working with and am continually learning from. How lucky am I to get paid to ask trade experts questions, to facilitate their expertise and knowledge to create provincial apprenticeship training standards?