Ecological Gardener Training Program

Discover how to transform human spaces into healthy, vibrant ecosystems through this 16-week immersive training program at the Horn Farm Center.

The Ecological Gardener Training Program guides home and community gardeners, landscape practitioners, and aspiring land stewards in the craft of designing, building, and stewarding biodiverse native habitats that support the well-being of wildlife and humans. Participants will explore native plants, pollinators, lawn conversion methods, scaled designing, and seasonal management techniques that can be applied to commercial, schoolyard, and residential spaces. Completing this course will leave you with both confidence and creativity as you take action in this “buzzing” field.

Entering its second year at the Horn Farm, the Ecological Gardener Training Program is facilitated by our educational partner, Elyse Jurgen of Waxwing EcoWorks.

Following a four-week Ecological Core Curriculum held in conjunction with the Horn Farm’s Land Steward Training Program (Mondays, 2/13 to 3/6) , this course meets every Tuesday from March 14th to May 30th.

New for 2023, participants in the Ecological Gardener Training Program will choose a pathway based on their commitment level and learning goals: 

Explorer Path

For broad inquirers and the eco-curious seeking to boost their native plant knowledge and explore foundational skills in designing for ecology.

Deep-Diver Path

For committed gardeners/landscapers and aspiring land stewards seeking added experience in real-life project implementation.

View the packet below for full program details

including content coverage, outcomes, a weekly calendar, and costs.

How to Enroll

Applications are open for the 2023 Ecological Gardener and Land Steward Training Programs.

After your application has been submitted and reviewed, you will receive an email to schedule an interview with the instructor(s). Following the interview, you will be sent a registration link to submit a non-refundable $100 deposit and enroll in the program. Any and all questions should be fielded to

Payment and Scholarships

Explorer Path: $720/person, $100 non-refundable deposit to enroll.

Deep-Diver Path: $900/person, $100 non-refundable deposit to enroll.

See the packet above for information about combining this course with the Land Steward Training Program.

Upon enrollment, a payment plan can be discussed to meet your preferences. UPDATE FOR NEED-BASED SCHOLARSHIPS: since the first application deadline passed on 1/15/23, we are no longer able to offer large scholarships to offset program costs. A small amount of support funding may be available, so we still encourage you to complete the scholarship section of this application if you foresee any needs. However, the chance to receive substantial support has passed. 

Please review the Horn Farm Center’s Cancellation and Refund Policy and Program Waiver before submitting an application.

About the Instructor:

Elyse Jurgen, owner of Waxwing EcoWorks Co., is a community collaborator
working to rebuild ecological literacy and biodiversity through hands-on ecological gardening experiences in South Central PA.

She is certified as a Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional and Ecological/Permaculture Designer, along with earning an Ecological Gardening Certification from Mt. Cuba Center. She has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Education, 7-12 Biology Teaching Certification, and participated in Cornell University’s Civic Ecology program. Elyse works alongside homeowners in a participatory approach to their gardening for wildlife needs, infusing educational opportunities during the design, installation, and management process. She invites homeowners to deeply engage with their land to maximize its potential in enhancing human well-being and supporting dwindling wildlife populations.

To explore Elyse’s ecological gardening work and experience in greater depth, visit

A note on our program sponsors:

This project was financed in part by a grant from the Community Conservation Partnerships Program, Environmental Stewardship Fund, under the administration of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Bureau of Recreation and Conservation. This grant was awarded through the Susquehanna Riverlands Partnership, with management oversight provided by the Lancaster Conservancy.

We are a partner of the Susquehanna Riverlands, a partnership of organizations working to protect, preserve, and steward the natural lands along the Lower Susquehanna River, emphasizing connectivity, eco-system health, and sustainable public access. To learn more, please visit