There was a time when jobs were separated only by blue collar and white collar. Then came the pink collar jobs, which are those held, predominately, by women. Now we’re hearing about green collar jobs. These jobs are just now being identified by a separate collar category.
Green collar workers include those working in traditional tree, landscape and lawn care positions, those who work for nurseries and garden centers, and even those working on farms and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) cooperatives. According to Garden Media’s 2020 Gardening Trends survey, horticulture jobs outnumber graduates two-to-one.
If discussions about a fence-sitting high school student’s future plans comes up at holiday gatherings, you might suggest they look at green collar jobs. The survey notes that many high school students are looking for opportunities that allow them to avoid the student debt that’s strangling so many graduates today. I’m pleased to report that many top level green collar jobs only require an associates degree, vocational training or even on-the-job training.
There are plenty of educational opportunities right nearby. Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua has a very good horticulture program. Many of the SUNY two year colleges offer agriculture and some, such as Cobleskill, offer horticulture as well.
My alma mater, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), offers excellent four year courses in a wide variety of majors. A five-year landscape architecture program is also offered. ESF is in Syracuse, adjacent to the Carrier Dome. Students enjoy many Syracuse University amenities while paying SUNY tuition.
Once a person has begun working in one of the green industry fields, they can take examinations for the certification credentials that are offered by trade associations and professional societies. Two very prestigious credentials are Certified Arborist, which is offered by the International Society of Arboriculture, and Certified Nursery and Landscape Professional, offered by the New York State Nursery & Landscape Association.
Finally, the green industry is diversified. There are opportunities for women and men in all positions.. The first women were admitted to ESF (then SUNY College of Forestry) in 1956. Today it’s ranked as one of the best colleges for women.
There is renewed interest in all that has to do with nature, healthy eating, beautiful landscapes and saving the planet. We just need people to step up and make it their purpose in life. And, we will reward them for their work and passion.