David Sanford, associate professor of horticulture, was recently honored for 25 years of service to Penn State Berks. During that time, he has seen many changes at the campus but the one thing that has not changed is his love for teaching.
“It’s one of the reasons I came to Penn State Berks,” Sanford said. “I enjoy teaching and interacting with the students. It’s what gets me up in the morning.”
Sanford also stated that Berks County is the ideal location as southeastern Pennsylvania is the center of the green industry and horticulture in Pennsylvania.
Over the last quarter century, Sanford has enjoyed watching Penn State Berks grow from a two-year commuter campus with four buildings to a four-year college with residence halls and a total of 30 buildings.
Among his accomplishments, Sanford was instrumental in the building of a campus greenhouse in 1990. He continues to oversee the care and maintenance of the greenhouse, as well as an arboretum of tree, shrub and herbaceous plantings which bring him to the campus on a daily basis including weekends, holidays and during summer breaks.
The greenhouse, which was built to provide horticulture and agriculture students with hands-on experience in plant propagation and crop growth, remains the teaching site for numerous courses including soil studies, horticulture, turf studies and general biology. Student groups, such as the Agriculture and Environmental Club, also use the greenhouse as a resource to benefit the campus. Different crops and flowers are grown throughout the year for sale and display, adding to the beauty of the campus and generating proceeds to assist in the greenhouse operation.
“With the land here at Penn State Berks, students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience in the field, as well as in the lab,” Sanford said. He added that renovations to the Luerssen Building include plans for a new agriculture research laboratory.
“I’m doing what I always wanted to do. I feel very fortunate.”
— David Sanford,
associate professor of horticulture at Penn State Berks
Sanford earned his bachelor's degree from Cornell University, his master's degree from Michigan State University, and his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University. He began teaching and advising Penn State Berks students in 1989 and is coordinator of the college's agricultural program.
In addition to teaching, he holds an appointment with Penn State Cooperative Extension as a specialist in ornamental horticulture where he speaks and conducts workshops for the green industry here in southeastern Pennsylvania. His programs on various horticultural topics are popular with both professionals in the industry as well as the general public. He has been credited with more than 24 publications and has made more than 500 presentations since joining Penn State. He received both the Penn State Berks Outstanding Advising Award in 2008 and the Outstanding Service Award in 1993 and 2008.
In addition, Sanford was named a Fellow of the Eastern Region of the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) in 2008. This award recognizes his outstanding contributions to the Society and to the field of plant propagation through research, teaching, extension and leadership in the green industry.
Sanford's involvement in the green industry is extensive. He is currently serving his second year as president of the National Perennial Plant Association and previously has served as the treasurer and a member of the board of directors. He has also been awarded the Pennsylvania Landscape and Nursery Association Exceptional Leadership Award for 2008. At the community level, he is one of the original organizers of the Berks County Home Gardener's School and is also active with the Pennsylvania Landscape Nursery Association, where he hosts and assists in coordinating the Certified Landscape Technician Exam annually at the Berks campus.
“I’m doing what I always wanted to do,” said Sanford. “I feel very fortunate.”