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Carving the path: FNGLA certification offers county and municipal employees career ladder

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Article by: Certification News

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When it comes time for officials at the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department to determine whether an employee advances to a higher-paying position, one of the factors they consider is whether that employee is FNGLA certified, according to Lorena Guerra-Macias, the Department’s Special Tax District Manager.

In 2010, the Department began requiring more than half of its 78-member workforce to earn FNGLA’s Certified Landscape Technician (FCLT-Installation) within their first year of employment, and the results have been quite positive.

“Through the certification of our employees, the Sports Turf Management and Landscape Services Division has been able to professionalize the workforce, raise our standards and ensure that the staff is continuously gaining knowledge through the continued education classes as to the changes in the industry,” Guerra-Macias said.

The Division’s employees, which consist of managers, landscape technician supervisors, auto equipment supervisors, landscape technicians, and landscape attendants, maintains more than 200 acres across the South Florida county – an area which includes more than 10,000 trees, according to Guerra-Macias.

"The pride that the staff has by having this certification has totally changed the mindset of all of our employees," said Gil Delgado, PROS division chief at Miami-Dade County. "It has improved the end results."

Delgado added that he was able to use FNGLA's certification to overhaul the job title and description of his entry-level crew, taking them their job titles from the more broad "park attendants," whose tasks could include anything from grounds keeping to cleaning park restrooms, to the more horticulture-focused "landscape technician" -- an upgrade that came with around a 10 percent pay increase, according to Delgado.

FCLT certification is not the final destination for many Miami-Dade employees either, according to Merry Mott, FNGLA’s director of certifications and career development. “These certified professionals give back to the industry by serving as exam judges at FNGLA’s bilingual test site in Davie.”

Miami-Dade County is not the only Florida agency to encourage its employees to be FNGLA-certified. “More than 200 employees from counties and cities across the state are currently FNGLA-certified,” Mott said, adding that the City of Tallahassee also makes FNGLA certification a requirement for a number of its workforce.

FNGLA offers five certifications for Florida’s nursery and landscape industry. FNGLA’s Certified Horticulture Professional (FCHP) aims to equip professionals with an array of basic horticultural practices like fertilization, pruning, irrigation, and plant and pest identification, explains Mott. The association also administers certifications for landscape installation, landscape maintenance, landscape contracting and landscape design. 

For more information on FNGLA certifications, visit FNGLA’s website       

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