As soon as our new students arrive, they are introduced to the Program expectations and the surrounding area. Our staff and second year students all participate in that process, formally and informally. Several aspects of the Program are focused almost exclusively on the new, students, and constitute what we call the "First Year Experience."
Our two-day Program Retreat in early July takes place away from our local offices and assists in the transition process. The first day is reserved solely for First Year Fellows and the Program Director in order to review the responsibilities, conditions, expectations, and Program attributes for the next two years. A personal laptop computer is issued to each student at this time, which will be his/hers to keep upon degree completion.
One of the Program aspects unique to the first year experience is the Summer Regional Field Trips. The students, through writing and photographic assignments, document these daylong visits to several of the area’s public horticulture institutions. First Years also participate in the Leadership Pairing Experience at Longwood Gardens, which involves shadowing management level staff, and keeping "Rotation Logs" to document the experience. During the summer, Second Year students integrate their new classmates into the Professional Outreach Project, as well. The International Experience offers First Year students the opportunity to observe public horticulture abroad and is one of the first group planning activities First Year students work on as a class.
Starting in August, each student begins to conceptualize his or her thesis research project in concert with the Program Director. First Year coursework requirements include an introductory level Museum Studies and Statistics course, and thereafter course selection is based on an individual’s career objectives. At this time, Second Year students begin to lead the new students in preparations for the annual Longwood Graduate Program Symposium.
The students’ “Second Year Experience” is primarily focused on developing and supporting his or her personal interests.
Coursework concentration within the student's particular area of interest usually occurs in the second, third, and fourth semesters of study. Although it is possible to focus on pertinent classes during the first year, second year students are encouraged to take classes that can best enhance their knowledge within their professional area of interest. The University of Delaware School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy (UAPP) and Lerner School of Business MBA program both permit Longwood Graduate Program Fellows in their courses under most circumstances. In the spring of the Second Year experience, students work together to compose a Professional Outreach Project (POP), incorporating the First Year students in the process when they begin the Program. In the late summer, Second Year students participate in the North American Experience (NAX), a week-long trip to public horticulture institutions within a specific region of North America. During NAX, each student is responsible for writing a summary of an assigned venue, as well as recording the trip in photos, all which are posted to a blog that is published on the Program's Web site. The Second Year Experience also includes the development and implementation of a professional Symposium for peer professionals, involving the leadership of the Second Year Fellows to guide the First Year Fellows. Finally, but not exclusively, traveling, conducting research, analyzing data, and writing the M.S. thesis consumes a large part of the Second Year Experience, culminating in thesis defense and graduation at the end of the two year program.
The second year also allows for volunteering at Longwood or any other garden in the region, selective participation on the boards of other organizations, and becoming involved with other graduate students and their activities at the University of Delaware.
Click here to download a timeline of the Program.