Meet an ALI Student


Meet Nina! She works at Natural Concerns, Inc., a landscaping firm. Here’s what she had to say about her ALI experience, “I get to work outside with awesome people and get to be creative. Also, being able to get an education in a field I love and meeting people who have similar interests. I enjoy learning how to better the environment through sustainable landscaping. I changed jobs because I had worked indoors forever and decided I was tired of looking outside through a window. It has been good for me both physically and mentally. My goal is to be able to teach others what I have learned through experience and school.” Nina was in ALI’s 2nd cohort of students and graduated in May 2020.


Meet Alex! (Alex is on the left). Horticulture was completely new to Alex when she started her job at Hampton National Historic Site. She learned quickly and even became garden manager! Hampton provided the on the job training and Federated Garden Clubs District II paid the 80% scholarship for her tuition at CCBC. Alex loved her ALI experience: “ALI was been a huge reason for my life being what it is today! I completely changed careers and I would never have been able to afford going back to school if I were not in ALI. I was able to attend many great seminars and events because of ALI. I love working in Horticulture!” Alex was in ALI’s 2nd cohort of students and graduated in May 2020.

Meet Chip! He works at Maxalea, Inc., a landscape firm. Chip says of  his ALI experience: “I love my job. I have learned so much from working at Maxalea. From maintenance work, to installation, even hard-scape and masonry. The ALI program has shown me the importance of what I do. The Horticulture classes at CCBC have taught me how the plants I install effect the landscape and environment around me. I am happy to be in this program because it gives me a deeper understanding of what I do, and it has opened many opportunities for me outside of just “digging holes”. Chip was in the 2nd cohort of ALI students and graduated in May 2020.

Meet Chelsea! Chelsea works at Greenstreet Gardens in the perennial department, growing herbs, vegetable plants, and perennials for the retail center. When we asked her about her experience with the ALI program she said: “I love what I do and it’s thanks to Greenstreet and ALI. ALI is an amazing program that allowed me to change careers with ease. I love working with plants and could not imagine doing anything else. I have learned so much through my Horticulture classes at CCBC and at work!” Chelsea was in the 2nd cohort of ALI students and graduated in May 2020.

Meet Darla

Meet Daria! She was in ALI’s very first cohort and graduated Spring 2019. Daria was hired by Cavano’s Perennials when she joined the ALI program and loves her job. Here are a few words about her experience: “I changed careers after I completed 20 years of military service. Gardening was my happy place, my stress reliever after work so I decided to take horticulture classes at CCBC. I found out about ALI, applied to the program, and was accepted. I have been introduced to many people in the horticulture industry, courtesy of ALI as well as through Cavano’s. I love my job because of the variety of plants and fellow plant lovers I get to interact with daily. Recently, I was asked to become a member of the ALI Board of Directors. I am excited to see what the future holds.” ALI is thrilled to have a former student serving on our Board. Congratulations Daria!

Meet Kayla

Meet Kayla! As a graduate of ALI’s 1st Cohort, she is an enthusiastic promotor of ALI. Kayla says: “I have always loved plants. ALI helps find you paid employment in the field while you are taking horticulture courses, and the employer pays 80% of your tuition. It is a win-win! I was lucky enough to work with Babikow Greenhouses for the past 3 years. I have gained priceless hands-on knowledge at Babikow. I started the program with little knowledge in Horticulture and have finished with not only a Certificate in Landscape Maintenance, Installation and Design but also with an Associates in Sustainable Horticulture, along with three years of industry experience. I am moving forward to fulfill my dream of becoming a landscape architect, with an emphasis on ecosystem rebuilding.”

Meet an ALI Employer

Maxalea, Inc.

Maxalea, Inc. is proud to be one of the founding sponsor companies for the ALI program. Three of our employees have graduated from the program and are now Foreman running landscape installation crews.  We currently have two employees in the program, one in their first year and the other in their second year. The second-year student has recently been promoted to a Foreman position. Our newest graduate from the program was not a current employee but an ALI applicant that we chose to take a chance on and have never looked back.

The experience has been extremely rewarding not just for the employees who complete the program but for the company overall. The classes the student take through CCBC’s Sustainable Horticulture Program provide excellent horticultural instruction, out of classroom field trips and volunteer experiences and promotes a real camaraderie among the ALI students.  The crews that our students work on have been so supportive of their crew members, talking about school projects, taking photos, and sharing their years of knowledge right along with our company’s management team.  Our employees have been eager to make the commitment to the program because of the unique ability to work full time and have Fridays off to attend classes at CCBC with the financial support of the company.  It is a solid investment in our company’s future and the future of the industry.

Michael McWilliams, President, Maxalea, Inc.