South Carolina Certified Landscape Professional (SCCLP) Provides Much Needed Skills to Soon-to-be-Released SC Inmates
In November 2021, an inmate within the SC state prison system wrote a letter addressed to the York County Extension Agent asking for literature about landscaping because he wanted to work in that field when he was released and, in the interim, prepare himself for that ambition. Several months of discussions with the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDOC) Division of Programs, Reentry and Rehabilitative Services to work out logistics resulted in launching the course on June 21, 2022. The SCDOC recruited 40 inmates across four facilities to participate in the existing South Carolina Certified Landscape Professional Program (SCCLP), funded by a grant from Clemson University Cooperative Extension. Classes met live via zoom for ten weeks, covering soils & fertility, plant growth/development, turf, as well as landscape installation/maintenance, integrated pest management, and equipment calibration. Participants were engaged and asked multiple questions, including how this certification can help them to find gainful employment. As a result, the 36 participants who took the final exam improved their pre and post-class scores by 45 points, and 31 received the South Carolina Certified Landscape Professional certification. Clemson Extension and SCDOC are seeking grant opportunities to sustain the project and offer it and other classes to a broader inmate audience.