- Mary Taylor
The Vocational Village at the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility (WHV) opened in September 2021. It is the third Vocational Village operated by the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC).
The Vocational Village model started in 2015 at Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia and now has two additional locations, including Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility in Ypsilanti. The Vocational Village model simulates a real job site atmosphere while learning a trade and earning state and nationally recognized credentials. Due to the vocational village models immense impact on the state’s recidivism rate, Michigan Department of Corrections Education, has hosted over 20 different states correctional departments in pursuit of similar programming for their departments.
Vocational training in Horticulture has been a staple job training program in MDOC for decades. Students in this class have the opportunity to obtain a pesticide applicator certification through MDARD a CGIP certification, and experience in a wide variety of industry skills. Horticulture in the Vocational Village model is a program that is unique in that it is only offered at WHV and is only offered to women. The program features three tiers of training. Students gain course completion based upon their interest and time remaining in prison.
Tier I: Introduction to Horticulture (CGIP C1-C7) and Pesticide Applicator Certification (MDARD Core and Certifications of the student’s choice)—this curriculum provides a student with basic horticultural knowledge and provides the student pesticide certification opportunities in the field of their interest.
Tier II: Landscape (CGIP C8-C14) and CGIP Certification Specialty Curriculum— this curriculum allows the student to complete the Certified Green Industry Professional (CGIP) core studies and allows them to prepare for certification in CGIP specialty categories. Students cannot receive certification in prison because the CGIP curriculum requires 2,000 hours of hands-on training with an employer. However, once they complete the work in the career field, they can test and be certified.
Tier III: Hydroponics—this curriculum the students about basic Hydroponic operation
Additionally, Horticulture students gain hands on skills with practical projects such as caring for and propagating house plants in a greenhouse, growing flowers, fruits and vegetables from seed and cuttings, learn hoop house operations, landscaping, and work on our ½ acre raised bed “farm”. Additional skills are honed by caring for a goldfish pond and planning for, marketing, and selling at a seasonal Farmer’s Market. The largest reward of the program for the students and its Instructor, Ms. Baron, is the 12,000 pounds of fresh produce donated to Food Gatherers, the local food bank each year.
Graduates of the Horticulture program at WHV Vocational Village have been employed in landscaping, greenhouses, interior scaping, and vertical farming positions.
WHV would welcome the opportunity to have you come tour our Vocational Village and meet potential future employees. Our students parole all over the state of Michigan. We regularly have employers interview and hire our students prior to parole. If you are interested in coming to tour, or to learn more, please contact Mary Taylor, Job Developer, at (734) 434-4511 or at Taylorm8@michigan.gov.