Register now: Horticulture Program and new greenhouse taking root at AC

by Joe Wyatt Published July 18, 2018

Success is a schedule of classes that conforms to a busy lifestyle without breaking the bank, and each day prospective students are checking those boxes and more at Amarillo College.

GreenHousehpFall classes begin at AC on Aug. 20 and registration is in full swing. To explore a full slate of daytime and evening classes, visit or call (806) 371-5000.

Classes are affordable – only $89 per semester credit hour for full-time students – or entirely free for May 2018 graduates of Amarillo Independent School District who qualify for the Thrive Amarillo Scholarship Program.

Most AC classes are eight weeks in duration, which accelerates time to completion, and credit hours readily transfer to public universities in Texas.

Enthusiasm abounds with the approach of every new fall semester at AC, but it is off the charts this fall thanks to the introduction of new degree and certificate programs in Horticulture – and a sparkling new greenhouse to support them.

Beginning this fall, students can pursue either a Horticulture certificate that prepares them to enter the workforce, or an associate degree in Horticulture that prepares them to transfer to a university. Hands-on research will take place in AC’s fully automated greenhouse – the STEM Research Center.

Dr. Claudie Biggers, chair of AC’s Biology Department, says an advisory board of local industry experts contributed to the design of the certificate program, so that curriculum corresponds with workforce needs.

AC also has entered into a partnership to propel horticulture majors to baccalaureate degrees in Plant and Soil Science at Texas Tech University, a pursuit offered entirely online. Students who transfer their credits through that unique partnership may choose to remain in Amarillo and fulfill their Texas Tech lab requirements under the watchful eyes of AC’s doctoral science faculty at the STEM Research Center.

“It’s a thrilling relationship beyond what a community college and a university normally have,” Biggers said of the partnership with Tech. “This will create a pipeline for students who earn associate degrees in Horticulture at AC to achieve bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and beyond.”

The industry-focused certificate in Horticulture can be completed in two semesters. The certificate program is built around classes such as Pest Control, General Botany, Plant Diseases and more. Springtime internships will feature on-the-job training with local industry.

Justin Young, director of nutrition education at the High Plains Food Bank, will teach Plant Diseases at AC this fall. He says future career opportunities in horticulture-related fields will be many and varied.

“Farming in the future is going to need people with more of a scientific background than before,” Young said. “Hydroponics and aquaponics will be rapidly expanding fields, and a lot of bright young entrepreneurs are going to seize the moment.”

Career opportunities in Horticulture will extend far beyond traditional farming. Industry needs will increasingly range from nursery technicians and plant breeders to landscape architects and pest-control experts, just to name a few.

“A Horticulture Program like this is something our area has needed for a long time, and I’m excited to be a part of it,” Young said. “Having a state-of-the-art greenhouse is a huge asset, too, because anyone coming into the field is going to need hands-on experiences beyond the classroom. They now can get that at Amarillo College.”

For more information about the new Horticulture Program at Amarillo College, please call (806) 371-5000.