One of the things Buffalo could use a lot more is better scenery. We have a dynamite park system, miles of waterfront, future trade corridors, but there is a lack of professionals who are sufficiently prepared to deal with all of this.
Fortunately, the Buffalo Center for Arts & Technology (BCAT) is working with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy (BOPC) and The Riverline to provide motivated individuals with access to a Landscape Maintenance Technician training program. The program – funded by KeyBank, the First Niagara Foundation and a national foundation – offers tuition-free training in intermediate skill careers, thereby providing a pipeline of candidates ready to work.
“BCAT’s partnership with Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and The Riverline demonstrates a successful collaboration between three Buffalo-based nonprofits committed to the economic and social growth of our community,” said Gina Burkhardt, CEO of BCAT. “This unique program creates employment opportunities that strengthen the local workforce and provide essential job preparation skills to residents of the City of Buffalo. We appreciate KeyBank’s continued investment in our community.
“KeyBank and the First Niagara Foundation are proud to support this unique program and collaboration between two dynamic and important organizations in our community,” said Elizabeth Gurney, Director of the KeyBank Foundation and the First Niagara Foundation. “This program aligns directly with KeyBank’s commitment to education and workforce development that improves the lives of program participants. We applaud the efforts of Gina Burkhardt and Stephanie Crockatt who have designed this creative collaboration. This is a great example of how we can build on the strengths of existing programs and work together to create opportunities for our community to obtain productive and meaningful employment.
With more and more public landscapes coming online all the time, including Waterfront Parks and The Riverline, not to mention existing parks still in need of 24-hour landscaping maintenance, Buffalo needs to step up its game in this regard. which concerns how everything is taken care of, and how it is presented to the public. By providing these candidates for the workforce with the knowledge and tools they need to get the job done, Buffalo as a whole will be a benefactor in the years to come.
The program includes:
- 60 hours of instruction given in the classrooms of the BCAT
- 4-week on-the-job training and paid internship within the City of Buffalo’s Olmsted Historical Park System, with support from Conservancy staff
- The in-house curriculum includes technical courses in the history of the park system, horticulture, landscaping techniques, safety precautions, and the use of equipment and materials.
- BCAT offers a minimum of 20 hours of instruction in job preparation skills to ensure that students are equipped to enter the workforce and be better prepared for promotions and / or development opportunities.
Have you ever visited a city that showcases its landscaped public spaces? Between the lack of funding and the lack of trained professionals, Buffalo might need some help with how it presents itself. We should be more proud of our outward appearance. This program, now in its second year, is a good start to reaching more ambitious goals. We have to go back to the days of greatness, when Buffalo was considered “the city of trees” and our parks were glorious – not just great, but glorious.
It would be nice to see even more partners (like the McKinley High School Horticulture Program) join this group in the years to come, to take the initiative to a whole new level. It is, however, an excellent starting point.
“The Conservancy hires over 55 field workers each year to help maintain and maintain Buffalo’s historic green spaces designed by Olmsted,” said Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director of BOPC. “With the increase in the use of parks, the need for skilled labor is high. Together with BCAT, we strengthen the local workforce, promote diversity and inclusion, and fulfill the Conservancy’s mission of preserving and sustaining our network of historic parks for current and future generations. We thank all partners and funders for this proactive opportunity.
“The Riverline is thrilled to be a part of this exciting project this year,” said Nancy Smith, executive director of the Western New York Land Conservancy, which administers The Riverline. “With support from a national donor, The Riverline is part of a five-city pilot project that includes similar infrastructure reuse projects across the country. From the earliest days of planning for The Riverline, one of our stated goals has been the equitable development of surrounding communities. This workforce development program, in partnership with BCAT and the Olmsted Conservancy, will go a long way towards achieving this goal.
More information and applications for the Landscape Management Technician Training Program are available and can be found here. BCAT will accept 15-20 applicants in courses from January to April in 2022. This training schedule will ensure that graduates of the program are ready to work and able to support the park and the general landscaping season from April to October. of each year.
For more information on the Landscape Maintenance Technician program, please visit buffaloartstechcenter.org/apply-now.
Main picture: MLK greenhouse (circa 1907)