NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – A partnership between Tennessee State University, Cheekwood and the mayor’s Opportunity Now program will provide paid internships and hands-on horticultural training to TSU students interested in careers in the environment.
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, TSU President Glenda Glover, and Jane MacLeod, Cheekwood president and CEO, announced the partnership Wednesday at a news conference at the Cheekwood Estate and Garden.
The partnership is part of a Cheekwood Career Readiness Initiative, designed to “inspire a new generation of horticulturalists and outdoor educators,” according to MacLeod.
It offers horticulture/landscape training and job skills development. Interns also receive one-on-one mentoring with leading horticultural experts, access to nationally acclaimed plant collection, and paid compensation.
“It is just great to see Tennessee State University and Cheekwood, two great institutions in our city to form this partnership that can lead to long-term jobs or careers in horticulture,” said Barry, whose Opportunity Now initiative aims to provide young people ages 14-24 in Davidson County access to employment.“
President Glover said with new concepts and advances in the field of horticulture, Cheekwood provides the necessary training environment and job-skills opportunity for TSU students.
“As a premier land-grant institution with an outstanding college of agriculture, TSU takes this partnership very seriously” Glover said. “TSU ranks among the best schools for job placement and we tell our students that a degree earned from TSU will land you gainful employment. That is why this partnership is so important. It helps us to continue our commitment to excellence.”
In welcoming remarks, MacLeod said the partnership with TSU and the mayor’s Opportunity NOW program was part of a strategic effort to raise appreciation and awareness for horticulture particularly among students as a career.
“This effort is also part of Cheekwood’s commitment to reach further out in the Nashville community to support initiatives to better our city, and engage with an increasingly diverse audience,” MacLeod said. “We are extremely glad to work with TSU in furthering these initiatives. The first TSU students who interned with us were exceptional and show great interest in learning what was put before them.”
Tariq Muhammad, a junior plant and soil science major, is one of three TSU students from the College of Agriculture who interned at Cheekwood as part of the partnership. He said the experience was quite different from what is taught in the classroom.
“It was amazing just to work with people who really love to do what they do,” said Mohammad, who worked in the gardens. “That was really a motivation for me. People were always there to help you. I was able to learn so much – the esthetics, the upkeep of the gardens.”
Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the TSU College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Sciences, referred to Cheekwood as a ‘jewel in Nashville’ that is very beneficial to TSU.
“They (Cheekwood) are so focused on horticulture which is one of our main focuses at Tennessee State University,” Reddy said. “We are so excited to enter this agreement with them. We are also thankful to President Glover, who has been on the forefront with Cheekwood and the mayor in getting this partnership together, which will not only benefit our students but also our faculty.”
Other TSU students who participated in the six-week internship at Cheekwook are: Jill Mullican, senior, Plant Sciences; and Whitney “Abby” Anderson, sophomore, Agricultural Education.
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With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.