|Joel F. Keebler|
Assistant Professor and Chair
Virginia Highlands Community College
| || |
B.Sc. - University of Tennessee, 1995
Area of emphasis: Ornamental Horticulture
M.Sc. - University of Tennessee, 1998
Area of emphasis: Urban Horticulture
As Chair of Virginia Highland's new horticulture program, Joel Keebler
is working to ensure that students get the opportunity to have hands-on experience and to apply knowledge gained in the classroom. Students are able to earn two-year degrees or work toward an associate of arts and sciences degree that can applied toward completion of a bachelor's degree.
To support the horticulture program, construction has been completed on a 3,000 square foot greenhouse and conservatory. The hilltop campus of 100 acres has been designated as a laboratory for the program and long-term plans call for the campus to become a significant public garden that will include a fitness and birding trail.
"Establishing a new program has been a challenge," explains Keebler. "I'm called upon to make decisions about curriculum issues, grounds maintenance, greenhouse construction, lab equipment, and more." Students in the program have established an Ornamental Grass Garden and a Heritage Apple Orchard. Students have also improved the ecological services of the campus by constructing housing for numerous bird species and work is underway to convert much of the campus to native plant communities. A planned brick-on-sand labyrinth will serve as a focal point for a new formal garden.
Keebler credits his education with preparing him for managing this new program. "I'm fortunate to have been exposed to and received training in a broad range of horticultural topics during my education."