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Carla Hetzel

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Research Project

The conception and evaluation of Cornell University’s master of professional studies program in public garden management.

A curriculum protocol is developed for the Master of Professional Studies program in public garden management offered through Cornell University and Cornell Plantations. Few graduate programs educate students strictly in the field of public horticulture. This study investigates the existing graduate programs relevant to preparing students to assume leadership roles in public gardens. Academic curriculum, funding opportunities and special requirements such as internships and research projects are considered for each program.

This project also included surveying selected leaders of public gardens in order to determine the skills they find necessary to carry out their jobs. Responses are coalesced into specific skills and then matched with academic disciplines. Course in the “Cornell University Course of Study Catalog” that concur with the previously defined academic disciplines are identified.

Guidelines for student research projects and internships have been suggested for consideration in development of Cornell University’s public garden management program. Completing a research project provides an opportunity to emphasize and strengthen a specific area of interest. Participating in an internship at a public garden provides students with the valuable opportunity of experiencing a public garden from within an organization at a professional level.

To read more about Carla’s study see: The Role of Academic Institutions in Developing Future Leaders. Sonja Skelly and Carla Hetzel. The Public Garden, 20(3): 14-17, 42.

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Carla is the plant curator at the Tyler Arboretum.


Carla was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she spent her childhood and teenage years. After finishing high school in Philadelphia, Carla attended college at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. She spent three years in residency at Cornell and completed her last semester in a year-long plant protection internship at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Cornell in January of 2000 with a B.S. in horticulture. During the summers between semesters, Carla gained valuable work experience participating in horticulture internships at Longwood Gardens and Morris Arboretum.