Organic Land Care Certificate Program

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension Organic Land Care Certificate Program provides education to landscapers and land care providers on organic practices for promoting healthy soil, enhancing biodiversity, and reducing polluted runoff from managed landscapes.
The core of the program is a 5 day course designed for professional landscapers, property managers, public works employees, groundskeepers, and landscape architects.

Over 20 university and industry experts teach the course and share their experience of how to successfully transition a landscape to organic management and add organic services to a business. 

2016 Course Dates: February 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 (Snow date: 10th)
County College of Morris, Landscape and Horticultural Building. Rm  110. 214 Center Grove Rd. Randolph, NJ, 07869.
8am- 5pm

Certificate program requirements include:

  • Attendance at the 5-day training course
  • Passing an optional exam based on course content.
Participants that pass the exam receive a certificate of completion and are listed on this website as having completed the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Organic Land Care Certificate program requirements.

Credits and Certificates
  • Pesticide recertification credits:
    • New Jersey: Core- 4 units; 3A- 12 units; 3B- 4 units; 13– 4 units
    • New York: Call for details
    • Pennsylvania: Call for details
  • NJ Certified Fertilizer Applicator Credits- pending
  • NOFA AOLCP credits- pending
  • The NJDEP Natural Turf and Landscape Management Certificate.

Course Fees:

Includes program, optional exam, and listing of business on Rutgers website. Breakfast and lunch to be provided.

Early registration: $475 pp (postmarked by December 31, 2015)

After 12/31/15: $500 pp

Optional printed materials fee: $50

Otherwise, materials will be distributed electronically. 

Credit cards, checks, purchase orders, and money orders accepted. 


Speakers and Schedule

Monday, February 1

  • Pesticide Risk, Toxicity and Environmental Contamination—Roy Meyer, Former Bureau Chief, NJDEP
  •  Physical, Chemical, Biological Aspects of Soil – Dan Kluchinski, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
  • Soil Food Web – Jennifer Adams Krumins, Associate Professor, Montclair State University
  • Compost and Compost Tea – Michael Kolenut, President, Lincoln Landscaping

Tuesday, February 2

  • Lawn Installation, Fertilization, and Management– James Murphy, Extension Specialist in Turf Grass Management, and Brad Park, Sports Turf Research & Education Coordinator, Rutgers University
  • Water Resource Protection—Michele Bakacs, Environmental Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
  • Rain Gardens and Rainwater Harvesting—Amy Rowe, Environmental Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Wednesday, February 3

  • Managing Abiotic Problems in the Landscape– Nick Polanin, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
  • Sustainable Landscape Design—Jan-Marie Traynor, Professor Emeritus, County College of Morris
  • History of Organics – Joseph Heckman, Extension Specialist in Soil Fertility, Rutgers University
  • Landscaping with Edible Plants (lunchtime speaker)- Joseph Heckman, Extension Specialist in Soil Fertility, Rutgers
  • Incorporating Native Plants and Lawn Alternatives— Rick McCoy, President, Richard A. McCoy Horticultural Services
  • Planting and Plant Care, Dominick Mondi, Executive Director, New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association

Monday, February 8

  • Disease Management, Trees and Shrubs– Charles Schmitt, Sr. Resource Extension Educator, Cornell University
  • Key Insect/Mite Pests of Landscape Trees & Shrubs – Steve Rettke, Ornamental IPM Program Associate, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
  • Cultural Practices: Bringing it All Together- Bill Hlubik, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension

Tuesday, February 9

  • Wildlife Management— Madeline Flahive DiNardo, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension
  • Business Management and Customer Communications– Chris Paul, President, Genesis Landscape Contractors, Inc.
  • Organic Landscapers Panel Discussion– Barry Draycott, Tech Terra Environmental; Keith Haitz, HydroGreen; Rick McCoy, and Chris Paul
  • Exam, pesticide recertification form distribution, program evaluation


Photo: teaching organic land care
  • Additional field trainings are offered throughout the year giving program participants the opportunity to see organic land care in practice and learn hands-on skills from Extension professionals and practitioners.
  • All who complete the program should also have a pesticide applicator license because commercial application of pest control products requires a license regardless of product type (organic or conventional).
  • Within one year of completing the program, businesses should be using separate application equipment for their organic and conventional treatments in order to avoid cross-contamination. In addition, it is suggested that businesses consider having a separate arm that deals with organic clients in order for clients to distinguish between the types of services offered.
  • It is the responsibility of program participants to notify RCE of any changes in contact information including website, phone, and email address.

Course curriculum includes the following topic areas:

  • Organic Land Care Principles
  • Soil
    • Physical, Chemical and Biological Aspects of Soil
    • Soil Testing and Interpreting Results
    • Using Soil Amendments, Compost, and Compost Tea
  • Using and Applying Mulches
  • Landscape Alternatives to Lawns
  • Pest and Disease Management for Trees and Shrubs
  • Water Resource Protection
    • Water Conservation and Management Technology
    • Rain Gardens and Rainwater Harvesting for Landscapes
  • Lawns
    • Low Maintenance Grass Species/Variety Selection
    • Installing and Renovating Lawns
    • Lawn Maintenance: Proper Mowing and Fertilization Practices
    • Lawn Pest and Disease Management
  • Proper Planting and Plant Care
  • Sustainable Landscape Design
  • Wildlife Management
  • Using Native Plants in the Home Landscape
  • Organic Land Care Business Practices: Marketing, Outreach, and Client Communication

  1. Rutgers
  2. Executive Dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources
  3. School of Environmental and Biological Sciences