Craig Hart, Class of 2020, a Delaware Valley University horticulture student, received an unexpected gift that will change his life.
Representatives from The Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association (PLNA) visited Hart’s class to surprise him with a $5,000 scholarship in December. Hart was under the impression a guest speaker was coming to his class and had no idea he had been selected for the award.
“I definitely was not expecting this,” said Hart. “I’m ecstatic. I was trying to figure out the other day if I was going to be able to afford to take some additional courses this summer or not. This scholarship is going to help a lot. I want to take summer courses to finish my degree earlier. I also want to add on a certificate in horticultural therapy and this award will help me do that.”
Hart is a commuter who travels an hour back and forth each day to take classes at DelVal. He transferred to DelVal after earning his associate degree from the County College of Morris in New Jersey. Hart is passionate about promoting the use of native plants and, using horticulture to help people.
“I want to own my own greenhouse and grow native plants specifically for landscape designers,” said Hart.
He would also like to earn a certificate in horticultural therapy through the university so that he can use horticulture to help children who have autism.
The two PLNA Board members who visited Hart’s class to present the scholarship were William H. Wells of Water Crest Farms Nursery in West Grove, and Ed Copenhaver, Class of 1975, of Stony Bridge Landscaping in Lebanon. After the scholarship presentation, Wells and Copenhaver took student questions and provided career advice.
Copenhaver earned his degree in ornamental horticulture from DelVal in 1975. After DelVal, he went on to become president of Stony Bridge Landscaping and hired two DelVal alumni, Donald Becker, Class of 1977, and Ray Boltz, Class of 1987, to work for him.
Copenhaver said Hart stood out to PLNA from the other applicants because of his real-world experience and interest in the field.
“We felt that he gained a lot of experience from working in the field and showed a strong interest in design and plant life,” said Copenhaver. “All of that was very pertinent in our interest in selecting him.”
To apply for the scholarship, Hart was required to submit an essay about his career goals and work experience along with a faculty recommendation. Assistant Professor of Plant Science Dr. Adrienne Kleintop, the faculty member who teaches the class PLNA visited, wrote the recommendation.