Leslie Cornell, who is the owner of Cornell Design & Landscaping, has been a staple within Moose Jaw when it comes to landscaping and gardening for the last 15 years.
She has helped thousands of people over the years with their landscape design and gardening needs
Her wealth of horticulture knowledge has gotten national attention, as she was featured in the magazine Landscape Trades for her countless years of mentoring others and trying to grow the profession.
“It’s an incredible honour. I’m very proud of being able to help people,” says Cornell. “It does take a lot from me but that’s what I want to do, it’s my decision to do that.”
This isn’t the first time Cornell has gotten national attention. She had a hand to play in the Humboldt Urban Garden Sanctuary (HUGS) project that opened in 2022, which was a tribute to the 2018 Humboldt Broncos.
The project received the Green for Life Community Award last year from the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association (CNLA) for the execution of the piece.
That project among others is just one of the ways Cornell has given back to the profession she loves so much.
Though she owns a very successful and fast-moving business she still takes the time out of her day to mentor others, in the hopes that one day, they will pass that knowledge on to someone else.
“You continue to want to do more. For me, I always feel that I’m not doing enough, and I can try to help somebody more. I’ve always enjoyed helping people but now with this ability to connect people and plants to really do so much better for themselves and get a career out of it.”
A lot of people may not know that Landscape and Horticulture is a Red Seal trade that could become a career, which is something she is trying to instill in her seasonal staff.
“They come and start working at my company and I start to tell them that this could be a career. You have an opportunity to get the education and the training to go with this passion and make enough money to feed your family and buy a home. It’s quite a different concept from a truck and shovel to someone that has an education in this industry.”
In 2018, Cornell along with a handful of provincial horticulturists started an online training program within the University of Saskatchewan to allow apprentices to get an education in the province.
Prior to 2018, those that wanted to take the four-year Landscape and Horticulture program would have to travel west to Olds College in Alberta.
Their board won the Outstanding Trade Board award in 2019 from the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certificate Commission (SATCC) for their work developing the online training program.
In the last 10 years, Cornell explains that she hasn’t seen a significant increase in the number of landscape horticulturists, which she says won’t change until the public understands that this is a Red Seal profession.
“It has to come from the public and they need to be the ones to say I only want a professional to do my job, but they don’t know, and that’s why I’m hoping to get this message out more and more. Alberta and Ontario have done a better job in getting the message out to the municipalities and the public that it is a trade that warrants having an education doing the work.”
Until that time comes for Saskatchewan, Cornell will continue to voice the importance of certified landscape horticulturists and training the next generation of the profession.
For those looking to enter the trade, Cornell has some advice.
“I would advise them to give me a call and I can tell them about the different avenues that are available or even call your local apprenticeship office.”