Landscape Management students in the Agricultural Technology Program put learning by doing to work for the community. This past year students worked with the Calfee Community & Cultural Center in Pulaski County to add planter beds in the front of the Center’s building, gaining experience with valuable skills they were learning in the classroom in this real-world application.

In the fall students in the Landscape Design Course completed a site assessment, inventory and analysis, and interviewed the client. Students gained experience listening to clients and creating a design that met their needs. The students took information from this visit and produced landscape designs that they then presented to the Center a few weeks later to “sell” their work. Aspects from several designs were chosen and ideas from multiple students were incorporated into the project design.

Instructor Tom Martin said this is an important learning process for the students; “It’s important to me that the students are the designers and not me, so I only interject my thinking to the clients when it seems like they want an idea that I know will be a problem.” 

In the Landscape Contracting course, students help plan and implement the installation, focusing on utilizing the best practices of plant installation and care techniques they discuss in the class.  They also produce a bid which includes the real world estimated costs for a traditional client

Students in the Hardscaping course were able to learn and perform the proper techniques for building a retaining wall, including preparation, laying base, leveling, cutting, splitting, and laying block, and cutting and installing caps. 

The industry partners are an important part of the service learning projects. They give of their time and expertise to help with the students and donate materials to help the client and the AT Program.  Industry partners for this project included Chandler Concrete, who donated the block and caps; Riverbend Nursery, who donated all herbaceous perennials; Valley Landscaping who helped find woody materials and provide them at cost; and Rock Creek Innovations who helped start the hardscaping portion of the project and provided their expertise to the students.

Each year Landscape instructor and Assistant Director Tom Martin chooses a local service-learning project that benefits both the community and students. Projects are chosen based on the need of the clients as well as the fit for increasing students’ skills and experience. If you are interested in partnering with the Agricultural Technology program for a landscape design and installation project in the Blacksburg or surrounding area, please contact Mr. Martin at

To find out more about the Calfee Community Cultural Center, visit