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 local communities, and essential employer references. This program is supported by Comenity Bank, Laffey-McHugh Foundation, New Castle County, WSFS Bank, 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 2019 HOPE Commission Workforce Community Partner Award and 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.


2020 Program


Application Process:

  1. Attend the information session at the Delaware Center for Horticulture at 1810 N. Dupont Street, Wilmington, DE 19806.
  2. Complete a three-hour, unpaid work shadow day. If you cannot attend the information session, please contact Bob Harris at 302-658-6262 ext. 118. 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

Program Details:

  • Recruitment: Attend job fair at Delaware Center for Horticulture on Jan. 27, 2020 from 4 - 7 p.m. (Snow date: Feb 3).
  • Interviewing: Complete mandatory 3-hour, unpaid work shadow day on January 28, 2020 (Jan. 30 snow date). Interviews will be conducted on February 5 and 6, 2020.
  • Program Starts: March 3, 2020
  • Program Ends: April 30, 2020 with Graduation
  • Position Title: Branches to Chances Trainee
  • Positions Available: 12
  • Compensation: Trainees are paid $8.75/hour with the opportunity to receive up to $500 as a performance bonus.


  • Trainees are hired as part-time, seasonal employees of the Delaware Center for Horticulture.
  • The training is 3 days/week, 7.5 hours/day for the first 7 weeks.
  • In Week 8, trainees work 35-40 hours getting experience working with a potential employer.
  • In Week 9, the program wraps up and trainees graduate.

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Be 18 years of age or older.
  2. Be available to work or be in class 8:00 am - 4:00 pm Monday through Friday (will meet 3 of those days).
  3. Able to attend work and class every day on time. Tardiness and absences are not tolerated.
  4. Be interested in and have a desire to work in landscaping, landscape contracting and maintenance, tree maintenance, and/or urban agriculture.
  5. Able to lift 50 pounds and capable of rigorous work in all weather conditions.
  6. Be able to provide a Social Security card or birth certificate and a valid state ID or driver’s license upon hire.
  7. Demonstrate a real interest in a full-time job.
  8. Demonstrate ability and willingness to work a manual labor job in all weather conditions
  9. Not have a violent or sexual criminal history.

A valid driver’s license is desirable but not required. DCH is a drug- and smoke-free workplace.



Bob Harris, Employment Training Specialist, ext. 118.


Branches to Chances Position Description

Employment Application


Gannett Grant Goes to Horticulture Program Helping People Who Need Work - The News Journal: 

2017 Branches to Chances Program

TheDCH Gardener Spring 2011

Delaware First Media

Trees planted by
TheDCH in Delaware: