As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, The Horticultural Therapy Institute (HTI) provides education and training in horticultural therapy to those new to, or experienced with, the practice of using gardening and plants to improve the lives of others.
Rebecca L. Haller and Christine L. Capra founded the Horticultural Therapy Institute (HTI) in Denver in 2002. Today HTI's certificate program is one of eight programs in the U.S. accredited by the American Horticultural Therapy Association (AHTA). HTI's program is also one of the largest and longest-running programs in the nation.
Haller, an HTI director and the Institute's lead instructor, has practiced and taught HT for nearly four decades. She established a vocational HT program in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, that's still thriving 30 years later. She developed and taught a HT certification program at Denver Botanic Gardens and served as president of AHTA. A prolific speaker and author, Haller has an M.S. in Horticultural Therapy from Kansas State University and is an affiliate faculty in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Colorado State University.
Capra, HTI's program manager, previously helped manage the horticultural therapy educational program at Denver Botanic Gardens. An award-winning author, Christine is the editor of HTI's online newsletter, "Making Connections," and manages HTI's social media communications. She has provided student counseling and support for more than 15 years.
Haller and Capra are co-editors of the book, "Horticultural Therapy Methods: Connecting People and Plants in Health Care, Human Services and Therapeutic Programs," published by CRC Press, Taylor & Francis, 2017. Their book is used by a number of HT certificate programs across the U.S.
Since 2002, 800-plus students from across the U.S. and internationally have taken HTI classes. More than 350 students have graduated from HTI. In most years, the horticultural therapy courses are taught in three U.S. locations, including in Colorado and one other U.S. location---alternating between California and North Carolina or Georgia. Classes are often held at sites with established HT programming. For example, in Colorado, classes have been taught at Denver's Anchor School for the Blind, Englewood's Craig Hospital and the Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being at the Mental Health Center of Denver.
HTI draws on experienced HT professionals from California, Arizona and Ohio to serve as HTI faculty. Partnering with Colorado State University, students earn college credit that can lead to a certificate in HT or a Bachelor's degree with an HT concentration. Students learn how to create, manage and evaluate successful HT programs.
HTI's mission has remained unchanged since Haller and Capra held the first class 15 years ago. HTI continues to prepare students to address the needs of special populations and adapt garden tasks to the abilities of each individual.
HTI's hallmark continues to be its hybrid distance-learning format that allows students to minimize travel time and costs by attending four or five consecutive days of face-to-face intensive class time at one location. "We have found that face-to-face experiences provide the greatest value to our students, who learn from each other, HTI faculty, guest lecturers and on-site HT programs," Haller says.
Today, HTI graduates work in hospitals, schools, mental health facilities, nursing homes, hospices, public gardens, rehabilitation/recovery facilities, prisons and vocational training centers.
GRADUATES FROM DENVER'S HORTICULTURAL THERAPY INSTITUTE SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES AND INSIGHTS.
"I went into the HTI classes not knowing what to expect and I came out with the skills I needed to jump into a new career," Jessica M., HTI Graduate, Loveland, CO Community Corrections Center
"Horticultural therapy is part of our holistic approach to hospice care. It's important to me that we encourage people to connect with nature because it can be that source of inspiration, hope and healing that people need, " Miriam W., HTI Graduate, Dayton, OH, Hospice
"What I loved about the courses at the Institute was the diversity of students and their various backgrounds. HTI brings in so many different and interesting guest speakers." Abby J., HTR, HTI Graduate, Philadelphia, PA Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Hospital
"For me, the most valuable part of the HTI classes was getting hands-on experience and seeing HT principles being put into practice in various settings," John F., HTI Graduate, Albemarie, NC Autism Treatment Center
"Attending the Institute inspired me to create my own contracting business and it gave me the confidence to share my new-found passion for plants with people in memory care communities," John O., HTI Graduate, Redwood City, CA Memory Care Facility
"Working with young children who are experiencing homelessness is both extremely challenging and extremely rewarding. When a young child bolts to the raised bed to check the progress of the baby plants he has been nurturing or extends a finger for a ladybug to perch, the full power of connecting with nature through horticulture is revealed," Katie G., Dallas, TX, HTI Graduate, Childcare Center for the Homeless
"This job is the most rewarding job I've ever had. The girls love horticultural therapy and I love it," Lanae G., HTI Graduate, Wellsville, UT, Treatment Center for Troubled Teen Girls