Greenwell Named Educator of the Year by National Landscape Organization

One of Daniel Greenwell’s main goals as Department Head of Piedmont Technical College’s Agriculture and Horticulture program is to encourage his students to “reach higher than they realize they can go.” He likes nothing more than boosting students’ knowledge and enthusiasm about their future in the field.

Since joining PTC in 2017, he has worked to update the program to align with the industry and provide hands-on learning and career development opportunities for students. This includes adding four certificates that align with industry needs: a greenhouse management certificate, a landscape design and installation certificate, a landscape management certificate, and a turf management certificate.

He also prioritizes enabling students to attend state and national conferences, an effort that he and students say has long-lasting paybacks.

This dedication recently led to Greenwell being named Educator of the Year by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) Foundation. The award was presented this spring at the National Collegiate Landscape Competition at Brigham Young University in Utah. The annual conference draws more than 600 landscape and horticulture students from around 50 colleges across the United States.

Greenwell took five students to the event, which features competitions, hands-on workshops, networking events with industry professionals, and a career fair. “I’ve taken groups for four years and they always mention the impact it makes on them,” says Greenwell, “In fact, I recently talked to a former student who graduated in 2019 and he recollected how impactful this conference was for him.”

Greenwell says most students aren’t aware of how big and diverse the industry is and how much opportunity is out there. “Agriculture and horticulture are among South Carolina’s largest industries and range from greenhouse management to landscape design and maintenance to maintaining golf courses and athletic fields to agriculture. NALP and other events that we attend help them see this diversity firsthand.”

“Students are always inspired by the opportunities in this industry, which drives them to set the bar even higher for themselves in terms of what they want to pursue and how hard they are willing to work to get there,” says Greenwell.

He was himself inspired at NALP when he attended and competed twice while a student at the University of Florida, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape and nursery horticulture with a minor in golf and sports turf management. He later earned his master’s in horticulture and graduate certificate in public horticulture from Auburn University.

“NALP made a big impact on me as a student and I want the same for my students,” says Greenwell. “The competition matters a lot to students but the main goal is to connect students with the industry.”

Students competed this year in 15 events, ranking well as a team and proving they can hold their own against students from much larger schools. Emily Galloway, who attended NALP and competed for the second year, said the event boosted her confidence. “When I got there the first year and got involved, I realized that I could be a leader. I found a competitive streak that I didn’t realize I had.”

It was Galloway who nominated her professor for the NALP Foundation’s Outstanding Professor of the Year Award. She says that before coming to PTC she struggled physically with injuries as well as with PTSD. “Prof. Greenwell helped me from the beginning to put a plan together to balance classes and recovery from shoulder surgery, then he encouraged me to get involved.”

In her nomination letter, Galloway writes: “Professor Greenwell works tirelessly to involve students within their own interests. He wants us all to succeed and to go as far as we can.”

With Greenwell’s help and encouragement, Galloway says she was able to find her stride. “And when I found my stride, I didn’t stop.”

Greenwell says he’s humbled to receive praise from his students and the NALP Educator of the Year award. “I am fortunate to know several previous recipients of this award and they have been, and remain, models that I look to for inspiration and guidance in how I teach, interact with and impact my students. I am honored to have my name listed among theirs,” he says. “If anything, being recognized with this award makes me want to grow as an educator even more.”

To learn more about PTC’s horticulture program, visit