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Linda Peterson cultivates a new career

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Linda Peterson

After 17 years in the insurance business, PCC second-year student Linda Peterson wanted a new career. And she got it. The new career is in garden design and she’s almost ready to work thanks to the Landscape Technology program.

It’s been a long journey. A few years ago, after finding no landscape programs willing to offer night courses to fit her busy schedule in Washington state, Peterson sold her house and moved to Portland. At PCC, she found the Landscape Technology program had flexible times.

"PCC was the only place that I called that offered classes during the day and at night," said Peterson. "I decided what I really wanted to do was work with plants. I’m a plant person and this program has been a lot of fun for me."

This year, Peterson and her fellow students will help organize the annual PCC Plant Sale, a tradition at PCC for more than 20 years. This year, it will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Friday, May 10-12 at the Rock Creek Campus greenhouse, 17705 N.W. Springville Road.

The plant sale includes at least 200 types of annuals, perennials, vegetable starts, fuchsia and other hanging baskets, tropical plants, ground covers, shrubs and more. All proceeds go to the PCC Foundation for Landscape Technology scholarships to buy equipment and instructional materials. And help students like Peterson, who has been impressed with the scope of the program.

The class that made the biggest impression on Peterson was instructor Steven Price’s course in business operations. It was there she learned about business plans, tax structures and land-use requirements.

"They were very good classes," she said. "He went over the nuts and bolts such as how to pick a name, get a business license and where the sources are for small businesses."

She also liked the construction management option to the Landscape Technology program. It prepares the students to take the contractor’s test through the state and shows them the wide variety of career options within the field.

"You not only get the basics, but you learn all of the different aspects of landscape development so you can go your own direction," she said. "Most students come in starting with one idea of what they want to do, but it always changes along the way."

But what Peterson likes the most is the support. She said her weakness was math, but she utilized a Rock Creek Campus math tutor to get through the required courses in the program.

"I didn’t realize there would be a math component," she admitted. "If you look at the design aspects it’s hard not to consider the amount of math involved. I really struggled with it. But that’s where the tutor came in. She really helped me out."

Another challenging part of the program was the illustration class. This helps students design their plans for their projects with precision and skill.

"I’m still not good at it," Peterson admits. "It takes me a long time and a lot of erasing."

One thing you can’t erase is Peterson’s love for plants and garden design. And she thanks PCC’s Landscape Technology program for giving her the skills to achieve her goals.

"It’s a good overview of the industry and is a self-contained program," she added. "It positions you to go into virtually any landscaping field."

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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