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Students Visit Local Caterpillar Facility Through Horticultural Science Agricultural Institute Class

Horticultural Science trainees at Caterpillar facility
Jodi Songer, a small group of students, and some NCNLA members at the Caterpillar (CAT) Edward J. Rapp Customer & Training Center in Clayton, North Carolina.

Students in the Agricultural Institute’s Horticultural Science program were recently given a treat when their instructor, Jodi Songer, took them to the Caterpillar (CAT) Edward J. Rapp Customer & Training Center in Clayton, North Carolina.

This facility is self-described by the international manufacturing powerhouse as one of its more unique facilities as it’s not only a training center but it resides with the Building Construction Products Division at the Clayton facility where equipment is assembled. 

This opportunity for students was made possible thanks to the partnership of Songer, who is the NC Nursery and Landscape Association (NCNLA) Education Liaison. The NCNLA makes pathways for students to many areas within and adjacent to the green industry. 

Songer, a small group of students, and some NCNLA members converged for a great opportunity to meet a variety of industry professionals and see what CAT has to offer. 

The students toured the manufacturing faculty, were provided lunch, and visited stations to talk with specialists about a wide variety of equipment pieces, including a track loader, backhoe, tree spade and more.

Songer said, “[The students] learned things like how the hydraulics are used, automation and what equipment is specific to the landscape industry.”

Some of the students also got some hands-on experience with the equipment.

The students given this opportunity were in the HS 162-Landscape Maintenance class which is part of the Horticultural Science’s two-year Agricultural Institute program. This specific class offers numerous hands-on opportunities at the Horticulture Field Lab (HFL), as well as field trips. Like their trip to the CAT facility, trips allow students to meet professionals in a variety of areas, including visits to landscape maintenance companies like GreenView Partners for workshops on fertilizer application and calibration, tree climbing with Bartlett Tree Experts, irrigation activities with Ruppert Landscape, and equipment safety training with Bland Landscaping

Opportunities like these combined efforts between the Department of Horticultural Science, industry leaders, and companies and organizations like the NCNLA offer a value to students that is incalculable. Not only do they learn about the multi-faceted world of the green industry, but they also get to meet and form relationships with the people who make up these businesses.

The training, teaching and hands-on experiences these students have that go beyond the classroom are one of many reasons why the Department of Horticultural Science’s courses within the Agricultural Institute continue to pay dividends for the students who will make up the ever-growing green industry.

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