Each spring Schenectady County's public spaces are transformed. Weeds and brush are cleared and overnight, marigolds, pansies, lilies and sunflowers take their place.
Each year, the Schenectady County Horticulture Education Center grows more than 100,000 flowers, which are given to county agencies and private groups to beautify the neighborhoods and public spaces throughout Schenectady County.
The Schenectady County Horticulture Education Center, or The Green House, is a three-way partnership between the county, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Schenectady Job Training Agency. Schenectady County provides a portion of the center's funding and buys the plants that are grown in the greenhouse each year. Cornell provides the center's management and educational components and the Job Training Agency provides most of the personnel who keep the center running.
The center's main focus is to grow the 100,000 annuals, which are planted throughout the county each year. This large task is completed because of the workers from the Job Training Agency and through a youth job training initiative made possible by a federal grant from the Department of Labor.
Debora Moran, the center's director, is one of two full-time employees. "
Having those people is a great help to us. Obviously we couldn't handle all the work just the two of us," she said.
Most of the adults who work at the Horticulture Education Center receive assistance from the county and gain job training skills and a reference at the center.
On an average day, between five and 10 workers come through the center, but as many as 20 folks are on hand during the busy spring months, Moran said.
Heather Schaible has been working for the center for a year as part of the Job Training Agency's program.
"I like working outside and I'm used to this kind of work because my grandfather had a garden when I was younger," she said.