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Provides students with an opportunity to experience the Illinois Green Industry with a "hands-on" approach, demonstrating the potential career opportunities that exist within the field of horticulture, landscape, and more.

Upcoming Events

Because of the challenges we currently face with the pandemic, there are no HOPE events. We look forward to the opportunity to gather safely when it is feasible for both our member firms and students to do so.  If you are interested in hosting HOPE students, please contact IGIA.

Past Events

November 7, 2019
Lizzie's Garden
Naperville, IL

Lizzie's Garden Collage

September 12, 2019
Lurvey Landscape Supply
Des Plaines, IL

Lurvey Collage

April 10, 2019
Possibility Place Nursery
Monee, IL

Possibility Place Collage

March 21, 2019
Pizzo Native Plant Nursery
Leland, IL

Pizzo Collage

November 8, 2018
Kankakee Nursery Co
Aroma Park, IL

Kankakee Nursery Collage

October 17, 2018
Spring Grove Nursery &
Mazon, IL

 HOPE Video

September 11, 2018
Midwest Groundcovers & Midwest Trading
Virgil, IL

 Midwest Collage


To build relationships between students and the Illinois Green Industry - a great opportunity for learning and making professional connections for the future.  The program helps students make decisions about their career focus through hands-on experiences and provides employers with knowledgeable personnel. 

Since 1979, the Illinois Green Industry Association has been providing students with an opportunity to experience the nursery and landscape industry in Illinois with a “hands-on” approach to prepare them for careers in horticulture.

From September through mid-spring, students are provided business work experiences and educational opportunities that will give them an advance start on their career. Each month of the program participating students devote time to the H.O.P.E. program, providing them a better understanding of the inner workings of a typical green industry business.  



Can students select which portion of the day they want to attend at a certain host site?

In order for everyone participating to have the best experience possible, we need students to be onsite and ready to go by 9am, staying for the entirety of the day until the program closes at 4 or 4:30. The way the students will be broken into groups to move through various stations throughout the day, it would be difficult for both the host employees and the students to have individuals popping in and out throughout the day. We want to do our best to accommodate individual needs, but the program is truly designed for a student to experience the full day.

What happens if it rains?

Part of working in the horticulture industry is dealing with the unpredictability of the elements.  Students should be prepared by wearing clothes and shoes than can get dirty, bringing gloves to protect their hands, and a coat/hat in the case of cooler weather or light rain/wind. If conditions are unfavorable, we will make alternate arrangements. 

Example Work Experiences

  • Production: Start to finish stages of production of material (propagation, cuttings, pruning, spacing, digging, over-wintering techniques, etc.)
  • Facilities: Greenhouses, hoop houses, pump houses, irrigation facilities, retail spaces, potting sheds, sales offices, etc.
  • Safety: Secure a load for transport, how to hook up equipment, general safety techniques for power equipment, pruning equipment, fertilizers and pesticides, etc.
  • Order Processing: From order entry through pulling and preparing orders for shipment or pickup
  • Business Operations including Sales and Marketing, Human Resources, etc.
  • Inventory, Specialty Equipment, and more
  • Presentations will also include:  Advice from the owner/management team, Do’s & Don’t in the Business, Industry Trends, and Time for Student Q&A

Testimonials from H.O.P.E. Participants

I am so glad you are continuing with this program.  I had such a great experience with H.O.P.E. when I was taking horticulture and botany classes at Joliet Junior College back in the early 2000s.  I learned so much for every department and nursery that we visited.  It truly gave me an overall experience in the green industry that I feel helped me become a better worker today. 

I give this program a ‘two-thumbs’ up. I have been interviewing for internships/employment and almost every employer who has interviewed me has participated in the HOPE program while they were in school! I myself have had an eye-opening, outstanding experience. Thank you to all involved that make this program happen….this student is truly grateful! 

Through participation in the program I have an internship with Midwest Groundcovers for the summer, and I am over the moon about the whole thing. Knowing that I wouldn't be where I am now (or am going) if it wasn't for the IGIA and the HOPE program! 

Student Participant Requirements

  • You are currently a high school* junior or senior, or you are enrolled in either a 2-year or 4-year horticulture or related green industry area of study.
  • You enjoy hands-on learning and are interested to see what it’s like to work in a green industry business as a potential career.
  • There is no cost to participate, with the exception of getting yourself to the host site for the event. Advanced registration is required for each event.
  • You must be willing to follow the guidelines set forth by our host sites and be prepared to participate in onsite activities.
  • You are courteous and professional, conducting yourself appropriately while at host locations.
  • You are able to come to the event prepared with the proper gear that is appropriate for the conditions of the season (warm clothing, rain gear, boots, gloves, etc.)
  • You thank your hosts for the experience, understanding the commitment the nursery makes to ensure this is an effective program for you. It takes planning and effort for the hosts to prepare for the program, and this is not an opportunity offered to everyone. 
*High School students must be accompanied by a teach or adviser