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 the State of Delaware’s Criminal Justice Council, 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.



Completed Applications due by Friday, January 12 at 4:00 pm


Position Title: Branches to Chances trainee

Trainee Positions Available: 8

Duration:  Part-time, 12 weeks

February 19 – May 11, 2018

Approximately 16-20 hours/week

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


Position Description
Employment Application


Description: Learn horticulture industry skills on location at public urban landscapes in the City of Wilmington and throughout the Delaware Valley. Approximately one day per week will be spent either at the Delaware Center for Horticulture (DCH), learning horticulture, job, and life skills, or visiting an area public garden or horticulture business. Approximately three days per week will be spent 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.


Eligibility Requirements:

Applicants must:

  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.
  3. Able to attend work and class every day on time.
  4. Be interested in and have a desire to work in landscaping/ornamental horticulture,
    landscape contracting and maintenance, arboriculture, floriculture, and/or urban agriculture.
  5. Able to lift 50 pounds and capable of rigorous work in all weather conditions.
  6. Not have a violent or sexual criminal history.

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.


Contact: Mackenzie Knight-Fochs, Education and Outreach Manager, 302-658-6262 ext. 117


2017 Branches to Chances Program

TheDCH Gardener Spring 2011

Delaware First Media

Trees planted by
TheDCH in Delaware: