Wiregrass Foundation Receives $10,000 for Horticulture Program


January 8, 2014

Valdosta, GA – Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Foundation South received a donation of $10,000 to help the college start a Horticulture program at Valdosta State Prison. The program includes five classes which lead to the Landscape Specialist Technical Certificate of Credit.

While the prison offers some on-the-job training, this is the only program offered in the prison by an accredited college. Wiregrass Georgia Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate degrees, diplomas, and technical certificates of credit. Most of the college’s students receive various forms of financial aid but in this case, the tuition and books are covered by an unnamed private foundation rather than through taxpayers or the lottery-funded HOPE program.

The students for this program were carefully selected to include only those inmates within three years of release with non-violent offenses. The program is designed to be completed within five semesters by taking one class per semester. Upon completion of the program, students will be better prepared to enter the workforce and become productive citizens who are less likely to return to prison.

There are currently eleven students in the program and according to Horticulture Coordinator Kerry Watts, they are doing well, turning their homework in on time, asking important questions, and are enjoying learning. This is a win-win situation where the inmates are learning skills which will help reduce their chances of returning to prison and it helps security officers by providing a new opportunity for inmates to be engaged in positive activities. It also helps the college fulfill its mission of developing the workforce and will benefit society and the community once the inmates are released.

The Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Foundation South is very thankful for the $10,000 donation which allowed Watts to begin this program. For more information about making a donation to a program of your choice, contact Dr. Penelope Schmidt at 229.293.6190 or penelope.schmidt@wiregrass.edu. For more information about certificates, diplomas, or degrees in the Horticulture program, contact Mr. Kerry Watts at 229.249.2662 or horticulture@wiregrass.edu. For other information, please call the college at 229.333.2100.