Air Force veteran Nikki Barrett begins a landscaping career at Tri-C
December 15, 2017
Nikki Barrett spent the past eight years tending to a community garden in her Cuyahoga Falls neighborhood, adding a dash of color to the corner of Curtis Avenue and Anderson Road.
Look for her work to become more widespread in the future, following her studies at Cuyahoga Community College.
The 49-year-old U.S. Air Force veteran will graduate this month with a certificate in landscape contracting through the College’s Plant Science and Landscape Technology program. Consider it a stepping-stone on a new career path.
“I always loved gardening,” Barrett said, “but Tri-C showed me how to turn that into a career.”
She enrolled at the College in 2016 after spending years at home raising her two sons, Jack (15) and Joseph (13). Barrett said she immediately found a family atmosphere within the program at Eastern Campus.
Within a year, she became part of the team representing Tri-C at the National Collegiate Landscape Competition. The annual competition attracts the top horticulture and landscape schools in the country.
Barrett helped Tri-C place first among community colleges and fifth overall at the 2017 competition, held in March at Brigham Young University in Utah.
“We have a nationally recognized program,” she said. “I don’t think people realize what’s here.”
Barrett will compete again in 2018 as she continue her studies at the College this spring, with classes such as soil technology and arboriculture. She is working toward an Associate of Applied Science degree to go along with her certificate.
Her long-term goal is to work in Northeast Ohio’s booming greenhouse industry.
“Tri-C has provided me an opportunity to pursue a career I really like,” Barrett said. “There are many, many opportunities in this field. I know there are good jobs out there that I’m going to be prepared to take.”