Student Horticulturists Have Bright Future With Help From Landscaping Company

The Baker Commercial Landscaping Team visits Whittier’s Walk at the UCF Arboretum.

There’s more to landscaping than pulling weeds and pushing a mower — much more.

Experts in logistics, finance, small engine repair, soil chemistry and human resources are all in demand at Baker Commercial Landscaping, a 250-plus employee company that maintains the properties of homes and businesses across Tampa and Orlando, including UCF’s main campus and Research Park.

CEO Ted Baker and his team envisions the talent to fill those roles coming from the Knights studying not too far from their office in east Orlando. That’s why Baker Landscaping has invested in the UCF Arboretum, which is proving to be an invaluable training ground for students pursuing careers in horticulture and environmental sciences.

While tourism takes center stage as the top industry in Florida, horticulture is an equally hot job market. The industry in 2018 generated $25.4 billion total output sales in 2018, and directly employed 242,000 people, according to the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association.

“We saw the professionalism and the potential at the Arboretum, so recruiting students and investing in their success was really a no-brainer,” Baker said.

Baker Landscaping pledged five years of support for the Arboretum. Their commitment allows students to build expansions of the Arboretum, while simultaneously developing leadership and project management skills as they supervise fellow students.

Baker’s leadership team includes Trey Rolquin, who graduated from the horticulture program at the University of Florida. Rolquin also emphasizes the landscape business is much deeper than what the public generally sees. Fertilization and pest control require precise chemistry knowledge; horticulturists need to understand soil conditions, the impact of weather on plants sensitive to water and sun, the origins of harmful fungi and plant diseases, he said.

“Students have a lot of options for both specialization and for broader knowledge,” Rolquin said.

President Marc Blum ‘87 said investing in student success and the Arboretum helps in the short-term, but it’s also the means to sustainable growth. As students graduate and build successful careers as alumni, the value of the Arboretum’s program inspires them to give back and invest in up-and-coming students.

“The potential is huge,” said Blum, a graduate of UCF’s College of Business Accounting program. “I would highly encourage other donors to join us in giving students the education and hands-on training they need to be successful.”






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