College Bound Academy students learn about green careers at Temple Ambler

Students from Temple University's College Bound Academy explore the gardens at Temple Ambler

While students in Temple’s College Bound Academy spent a week discovering everything the University has to offer, a visit to Temple University Ambler gave participants the opportunity to explore “green” careers.

“We really wanted to get the students out to Temple Ambler after talking to a young lady — Marquita Heard — who had been through foster care and graduated from Temple with a degree in Landscape Architecture. She now works for the City of Philadelphia and is connected to the Philadelphia Flower Show,” said Harold B. Brooks, Educational Services Coordinator for the Achieving Independence Center in Temple’s Center for Social Policy & Community Development and Project Coordinator for the University’s College Bound Academy. “One of the primary goals of the College Bound Academy is to provide students from grades nine, 10 and 11 who are in foster care with a comprehensive on-campus college experience that motivates them, inspires personal growth and exposes them to the broadest range of potential careers after graduation.”

According to Brooks, Temple University’s College Bound Academy addresses the educational disparity experienced by youth in foster care at critical stages of adolescent development, times in which they are at most risk for dropping out of school, most influenced by positive and negative peer influences, and when academics are most important in terms of preparing for college and career options.

While there are several academies supported by the nsoro Educational Foundation in the southern region of the United States, Temple’s is the only College Bound Academy program offered in the northeast, Brooks said. Students who complete the academy are eligible for post secondary scholarships upon graduating from high school, he added.

“Temple prides itself on the notion of diversity and that goes well beyond race, ethnicity and religion. As a major university, Temple provides an exceedingly diverse array of unique experiences and career paths,” said Brooks. “Landscape architecture and horticulture might not be careers many of our academy students are exposed to. But the idea of being able to make a positive impact on the city and their communities, that might be the right incentive to realize that ‘college is right for me,’ that it is a reachable and desirable goal.”

During their visit to Temple Ambler, Greenhouse Horticulturist Benjamin Snyder — a recent Temple graduate himself — and Baldev Lamba, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture provided participants with a expansive look at the many career options available in the green industry. Students also toured the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University, the University’s living laboratory that provides hands-on learning experiences to a variety of majors.

“Landscape architecture and horticulture graduates are on the forefront of a very important move toward sustainability — there is a great deal of interest in urban greening and farming, alternative agriculture and sustainable landscape design in general. It takes a team of highly skilled professionals to successfully design, implement and maintain a beautiful and functional landscape,” said Snyder, who graduated from Temple with a degree in horticulture in December 2016. “One of the things that we particularly wanted to highlight is that not all college experiences are 100-percent classroom-based. Our blend of classroom time with hands-on experience, as well as opportunities for individual student study, may be the exact right fit for some of the College Bound Academy students and may encourage them to continue their education and achieve their personal goals.”