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Green thumbs getting greener at BTC

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
February 22, 2009
— Landscapers. Groundskeepers. Nursery workers.

These people have always made things green. Now, they’re being asked to do it in an environmentally sound way.


That means saving water and keeping fertilizers from polluting lakes and streams.


Blackhawk Technical College has recognized the need by reinventing its landscape and turf management program.


Graduates still will learn how to grow plants, handle equipment and design landscapes, but the program is now called Green Industry Technician.


The refurbished program began last fall and continues to evolve in a “green” direction, said Nancy Lightfield, dean of BTC’s Center for Transportation Studies on Highway 14 just north of Janesville.


“Landscapes should not only be pleasing, but they should also serve a purpose,” Lightfield said.


They can shelter homes from the sun and wind, for example.


“These are things that in some cases our grandparents knew about and we’ve forgotten,” Lightfield said.


They also can be built in a way that saves precious water. Rain gardens that soak up roof runoff are just one example. There are also ways to build driveways that absorb water rather than channeling it into the storm sewers, Lightfield noted.


And there are “green” roofs that cool and insulate buildings while conserving water.


Also gaining popularity are native plants in place of exotic species that can require special care, extra water or pesticides, Lightfield said.


The hope is that learning how to work with these innovations will make the students more marketable.


“And above all, we feel, in this day and age, it’s just the right thing to do,” Lightfield said. “We all need to be more conscious of what we’re doing in this environment.”



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