Earning an FNGLA certification takes dedication and study. The same holds true for maintaining that certification through keeping up with the required continuing education.
FNGLA asked two garden centers, each with more than 20 FNGLA Certified Professionals on staff, how – and why – they help their employees earn CEUs.
Caleb Lukas, chief financial officer at Lukas Nursery, explains their company’s strong support of the FCHP program.
“FCHP certification helps differentiate our business by showing our expertise and knowledge in the industry to gain an edge on our competition - mainly big box stores,“ he says. “In addition, it gives our staff an achievable goal that helps build their self-confidence in assisting customers.”
It also paves a pathway for employee promotion at the company for those who hold a certification, he explains.
Being close to Orlando, The Landscape Show provides a huge opportunity for Lukas' staff to gain CEUs, he says. In fact, attending this industry trade show provides benefits for both staff and the company, Lukas says.
Company officials can reward staff by offering a fun day at the show, time and expenses paid, and allow each employee to enjoy learning and building relationships with colleagues and others in the industry, Lukas adds. He also believes it re-invigorates a passion for the industry by seeing what's new and unusual. The general "buzz" of the show sends a positive vibe, he adds.
Lukas Nursery also encourages its staff to see what's new and report back to management with their findings. “We encourage this participation so they can feel a part of new trends and moves that we implement in the business,” Lukas explains. “Also, the more heads we put together, the better the vision we can put together to improve our business.”
Liz Lark-Riley, managing director at Rockledge Gardens, explains how FNGLA’s certifications are a part of their company's commitment to making the world a more beautiful place through plants.
“When customers are successful in their home gardens, we get closer to that mission,” says Lark-Riley. “The best way we can help customers to be successful is by creating an incredibly knowledgeable team to assist and advise them.”
When staff are given opportunities to gain CEUs and increase their knowledge, they are more engaged with their jobs, she says. They aren't just selling plants; they are growing as horticultural professionals. Lark-Riley wants the entire Rockledge team to be growing, learning, and loving their jobs so Rockledge Gardens may continue being known as the greatest resource for horticultural knowledge in Central Florida.
In-house education is available to Rockledge staff through an online garden blog series written by Amanda Rose Newton. Employee progress is tracked as they read these blogs, earn CEUs as gain knowledge, according to Lark-Riley. Additionally, employees see this as an easy way for the team to increase horticultural knowledge while becoming intimately familiar with the tools available on the company's website for their customers, Lark-Riley adds.
Rockledge has big dreams for their in-house online education series, according to Lark-Riley. “When the team maintains their certifications, it is a signal to our customers that they have come to the right place for professional horticultural advice,” she says. “Additionally, when our team is working to maintain their certifications, they are actively working to grow their knowledge and abilities.”
Both Lukas and Rockledge encourage their teams to seek out learning opportunities in areas for which they have a passion. Seminars hosted at their locations, though held primarily for their customers and the community, are also offered to employees as CEU learning opportunities with staff encouraged to attend.
“As we know in the plant world, if you're not growing, you're dying … the equivalent to "dying" for employees of a business is becoming actively disengaged with their jobs,” Lark-Riley says.
For more on FNGLA CEU opportunities, visit the Association's Professional Development section.