Schenectady County Horticulture Education Center beautifies area

The Center also works with at-risk youth who have either dropped out of school or recently graduated and are seeking work experience. The program is for youth ages 16 to 21.

"They learn what I call soft skills," Moran said. "Things like showing up on time, working with others and dressing appropriately."

Erin Bell, 16, has been working for the center for the past five weeks.

"I like to be outside and it's nice to get out of the house," she said. "I'll probably come back next summer."

Each spring, local organizations and agencies fill out a form requesting various flowers. In the middle of May, the center holds distribution day where representative from those agencies and organizations come to the center and load their cars with all of their requested flowers, then set off to plant them around the county.

Moran said the best part about working at the Horticulture Education Center is knowing that you are making a difference in the county.

"Our youth and adults can drive around and see the results of their work.

They see that they are making the county more beautiful and that is rewarding to them," she said.

The Horticulture Education Center takes up 3 acres in Schenectady's Central Park. The facility was renovated about eight years ago by Schenectady County and now includes 4,000 square feet of greenhouse space with state-of-the-art equipment like sensors that regulate the temperature and soil conditions of the plants and a heating system using hot water tubes that runs underneath the soil beds.

"We have state-of-the-art equipment here just like you would find if you went to work at a real nursery or greenhouse," Moran said.

In addition to growing flowers to beautify the county, the Horticulture Education Center won a new grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to plant five new gardens for educational purposes. There are five different types of gardens: a meadow garden, wetland garden, woodland garden, xeric or dry garden and a bird and butterfly garden.

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