The Commercial Horticulture Program was first offered in 1970, joining the agri‐business program as a second agriculture program. The two curricula had similar structures (two‐year, 7 quarters and summer internships). Initially, many faculty members taught in both programs as the two programs had courses in common. In 1984 Commercial Horticulture became a separate program and Duane Anderson was formally recognized as program chair.
Lindley Hoyt was the first program chair in agriculture in 1968. He was followed by Edward Billings in 1970 when Mr. Hoyt joined the student services staff as a counselor. Hoyt was followed by Rusty Caldwell in 1972, when he returned to the private sector.
George Rogers was the first agriculture instructor with a horticulture background, primarily in the area of agriculture chemical applications. Duane Anderson was the second faculty member in 1972, and later became the first commercial horticulture program chair. He brought experiences in green house operations and floral retailing. Alvin Wykoff joined the faculty in 1975 to teach turf and other related courses. Rudy Thorsheim joined the faculty in 1974 when Harold Gamm was appointed as an administrator.
The purpose of the program was to prepare students for jobs in five areas: greenhouse, lawn and turf, landscaping, garden center management and floral.
The seven‐quarter program was structured similarly to the agri‐business program with the first two quarters on campus in the classroom and lab, and the spring term with a fall co‐op placement in industry. Student field trips were an integral part of the program and were later cited by graduates as being a key learning experience. The first field trips were to St. Louis, Chicago and Minneapolis with several local field trips occurring the first fall of enrollment.
One of the first major activities for the horticulture program was to construct a greenhouse on the lower Ankeny Campus in the summer of 1972. Since the budget was limited, George Rogers and Harold Gamm did most of the construction from components that had been purchased. The physical plant group provided some assistance. The greenhouse was enclosed by the end of the summer. A head house was constructed in 1974 to complete the greenhouse complex. In 1982 the program moved to the "upper campus" into a newly constructed classroom and lab, with four new greenhouses attached to the building. The dedicated space for the program increased four times. A putting green was constructed near the lake as a lab for the turf program in 1975; and in 1976 a tree nursery operation was established and trees were planted throughout the Ankeny campus.
In 1973 the program began sales of greenhouse products to the public. One year students enrolled in the program landscaped and planted a college building trades home after it was constructed. Neal Van Veen was the third individual to serve as chair of the program. Randall Vos became program chair in spring of 2011. The program has differentiated itself from other community colleges' programs by offering a general
education in horticulture, providing students great flexibility for employment upon graduation. The program name changed to Horticulture, dropping Commercial, in 2013.