PAC Horticulture Club places in national competition

By Jessica Hoyle, Pulse staff writer 

Students from the PAC Horticulture Club compete in the PLANET Student Career Day.
Photo courtesy of the Horticulture Club.

Palo Alto College’s Horticulture Club placed 29 out of 63 teams at a national competition held at Auburn University in Alabama this spring.

Kirk Williams, Horticulture instructor and 11-year club adviser of the PAC Horticulture Club, said one of his most fulfilling memories is “taking the students to the PLANET Student Career Day this year and seeing them be so successful against their peers from colleges and universities across the nation.”

Williams has been teaching Agriculture and Horticulture for 16 years at PAC. His favorite part of teaching is “seeing the students becoming confident enough in their skills and knowledge about horticulture to answer questions from people, go to work in the industry, become certified in different areas and succeed in their jobs or in the businesses they run,” said Williams.

The club placed in Sales Presentation, Landscape Maintenance Operations, Construction Cost Estimating and Truck and Trailer Operations.

PAC’s Horticulture Club is one of the many on-campus clubs that is rapidly growing. The associate’s degree of Applied Science in Landscape and Horticulture Science is offered to students who want to start a career in growing plants, creating landscapes and improving the environment.

Accredited by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), PAC faculty and students participate in community projects that show students how to create and maintain healthy, green living spaces across the United States.

“We are involved in several volunteer programs that help educate others in many areas of horticulture,” said Mark Fukuda, a one-year member of PAC’s Horticulture Club. “Our professors are very involved with the club and do a great job of guiding us through the process of maintaining and growing it.”

Fukuda, a 52-year-old college freshman, said that his favorite aspect of horticulture is propagation, which is the process of creating new plants through seeds, cuttings, bulbs and other plant parts.

In the past year, PAC’s Horticulture Club has completed community service projects at the Schultze House Gardens in HemisFair Park and planted a butterfly garden at Crockett Park as part of a community initiative of the City of San Antonio and Project Evergreen.

A member of the club for two years, Sophomore Richard Mendez, 27, is now president of the Horticulture Club.

“I was actually in my senior year of my Education degree at Texas A&M-San Antonio and needed an extra class to make me full time. So I came back to Palo Alto and took Intro to Horticulture with Mr. Riggs,” said Mendez. “I fell in love with the class, and two weeks later I changed my major to Turfgrass and Golf Course Management. A lot of people said I was dumb for making a change in my senior year. I simply replied, ‘If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.’”

Students interested in this career can choose from many certificates and degrees. Visit and to learn more. Classes consist of book work as well as a lot of hands-on learning in the on-campus greenhouse and participation in projects around the city.

Mendez said, “The club is open to anyone and everyone. We have guest speakers on occasion and food, as well… Next semester there are plans to do yard renovations and possibly a golf tournament, as well. We are also the biggest club on campus and also have the most members of any college or university in the country in the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance. There are some big things happening in the Horticulture Club, and as the president, I welcome anyone and everyone to come and get their hands dirty.”

For more information, please contact Kirk Williams at or (210) 486-3073.