Welcoming Derek Churchill, Interim Principal Instructor for the Horticulture Training Program

The Garden is excited to welcome Derek Churchill, as interim Principal Horticulture Training Program Instructor. Derek is a seasoned Red Seal Landscape Horticulturist with two decades of experience in the landscape trade. With a long-term focus on plants and soil, Derek is able to impart his of knowledge to ensure the application of horticultural best management practices. His diverse background in landscaping spans the maintenance and installation of residential, commercial, and public spaces.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I’ve been landscaping for two decades now, I’ve worked for bigger companies, I’ve worked for smaller companies, I’ve worked for municipality and I really enjoy plants and soil and I love how things grow and that’s my passion. I’ve been teaching for four years and now I’m excited to join the UBC Botanical Garden Horticulture Training Program.

What are you most looking forward to as Principal Instructor?
It’s always the students, they are the ones who are the most knowledgeable. They bring in lots of great experiences and with every class that I’ve taught in the past, it’s every student has brought something different and you learn more from being in that environment. I love being a part of an open, collaborative environment with students and instructors. I just look forward to meeting all the students and learning from them.

What differentiates the UBC Botanical Garden’s Horticulture Training Program to other programs?
The horticulture training program is absolutely amazing here. It has a small class size, and there’s a lot of hands on experience. What I love about it is that the program gets very in depth and you get a much bigger education and knowledge base out of this program than you would out of other programs which are much shorter and much more condensed.

What kind of careers can students expect out of the Horticulture Training Program?
There’s lots of opportunities for careers from working for local government, municipalities and parks which are amazing looking after public spaces to working with private companies and building amazing landscapes for, for people. And it’s, there’s, it’s, it’s boundless what can happen. There’s people that have taken this program and they’ve worked around the world in many different places. So the opportunities are infinite as what you can do with having a great education in horticulture.

Can you talk a little bit about the different modules at the Horticulture Training Program here?
They, there’s a lot that you learn in this program from hardscape to plants and soil and understanding botany to just get really getting your hands dirty. Right now, we’re gonna focus on,, coming up with turf and the students are all gonna finish off their design projects and there’s a lot that they’re going to be learning. One of my things that I really like is the environmental stewardship side of things. We’re going to start talking about water management, which is really key in our changing climate.

What kind of facilities and resources do students have access to at the program?
So, as a student here, you’re not just working out of a classroom. The classroom is nice. It’s actually one of the nicest classrooms I’ve ever seen working in the middle of the botanical garden. But what you’ve got is you’ve got access to all the greenhouses, the botanical gardens labs and just being on a university with everything around here. It’s a great facility and it’s a great place to learn.



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