Branches to Chances: A Return to Work Program

Since 2009, the Delaware Center for Horticulture has offered one of Delaware's only green jobs training programs for unemployed, underemployed, and previously incarcerated men and women. The Branches to Chances program hires and trains men and women for entry level positions in the landscaping and horticulture industry. The curriculum combines classroom training and hands-on work experience supervised by industry experts that  equip participants to secure meaningful employment upon successful completion. Graduates leave with marketable skills in a growing industry, the satisfaction of improving the communities they come from, and essential employer references. This program is supported by Comenity Bank, Laffey-McHugh Foundation, and corporate/business sponsors of DCH’s public landscapes.


Classroom training includes a practical introduction to horticulture and arboriculture with topics like basic botany, terminology, taxonomy, nomenclature, planting techniques, and native plants. Instructors also provide life skills training like financial literacy and job readiness training, including writing cover letters, job searching, resume writing, interview skills, and professionalism.


In the field, participants get hands-on experience with container trees planting, basic tree care and pruning, public landscape installation and maintenance techniques, and raised bed building and community garden installation and care.


The fieldwork often takes the crews into their own neighborhoods, where they:

  • Model the positive personal impact of working and acquiring marketable skills
  • Practice newfound skills and find satisfaction in beautifying underserved communities

Our Return to Work program was honored with the Arbor Day Foundation's 2014 Award for Education Innovation, recognizing inventive programming that teaches its audience the importance of trees and inspires future environmental stewards.




Application Process

  1. Attend the information session at the Delaware Center for Horticulture at 1810 N. Dupont Street, Wilmington, DE 19806.
    Information Session: January 29, 2019, 9:30-10:30 am
  2. Complete a three-hour, unpaid work shadow day. The work shadow date and time is announced at the information session on Tuesday, January 29th. If you cannot attend the information session, please contact Bob Harris (ext. 118) or Mackenzie Knight-Fochs (ext. 117): 302-658-6262. You must attend the work shadow day to be considered for an interview.
  3. Complete an interview. Interviews will be scheduled after candidates participate in the work shadow day.
  4. Complete an ADP Background Check.

Branches to Chances Trainee Qualifications

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Be available to work or be in class 8:00 am - 4:00 pm Monday through Friday.
  • Be interested in and have a desire to work in landscaping/ornamental horticulture, landscape contracting and maintenance, arboriculture, floriculture, and/or urban agriculture.
  • Demonstrate a real interest in a full-time job
  • Demonstrate ability and willingness to work a manual labor job in all weather conditions
  • Be able to provide a Social Security card or birth certificate and a valid state ID or driver’s license upon hire.
  • Proof of non-violent/non-sexual criminal history. Exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Commit to the Delaware Center for Horticulture standards of full-time employment performance. Absences and tardiness are not tolerated.


Position Title: Branches to Chances Trainee

Trainee Positions Available: 8

Duration:  Part-time, 9 weeks

March 12 – May 9, 2019

22.5 hours/week

Compensation: $8.25/hour, with up to $500 performance bonus


Description: Learn horticulture industry skills on location at public urban landscapes in the City of Wilmington and throughout the Delaware Valley. Trainees will spend their time at the Delaware Center for Horticulture (DCH), learning horticulture, job, and life skills; visiting an area public garden or horticulture business; or working under the supervision of DCH staff gaining hands-on experience installing and maintaining public landscape projects, community gardens, and the E.D. Robinson Urban Farm at 12th and Brandywine Streets. This includes, but is not limited to, daily tasks such as weeding, digging planting holes, planting, mulching, staking plants, watering, pruning, harvesting, and trash collection. Upon completion of this program, participants will have the opportunity to gain full-time employment in the green industry.


Underemployed, unemployed, and previously incarcerated individuals are encouraged to apply. A valid driver’s license is desirable but not required. The DCH is a drug- and smoke-free workplace.



Mackenzie Knight-Fochs, Education and Outreach Manager, ext. 117

Bob Harris, Employment Training Specialist, ext. 118.


Branches to Chances Position Description

Employment Application


2017 Branches to Chances Program

TheDCH Gardener Spring 2011

Delaware First Media

Trees planted by
TheDCH in Delaware: