MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A new scholarship program in memory of George W. Longenecker has been approved by the board of directors of the West Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association (WVNLA). The scholarship is an incentive for high school seniors to apply and enroll in the Landscape Architecture or Horticulture programs at West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design.

The scholarship provides full tuition reimbursement for four semesters while maintaining a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) with full credits in either the Landscape Architecture or Horticultural Programs. This scholarship covers only the first four semesters because the West Virginia Nursery & Landscape Association then offers additional opportunities during the junior and senior years.

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” former student and landscape architect in Charleston Jason Testman said George had a dry sense of humor and was an engaging professor. Not afraid to get his hands dirty, George touched the lives of many for decades, sharing his expertise and knowledge.

“George was an amazing man, and any of his students know how fortunate they were to have him as part of their lives and part of their professional development,” Testman said. “He dedicated a lifetime of study and mentorship to landscape architecture and horticulture.”

Longenecker was one of the first faculty members in the landscape architecture and horticulture program at WVU and went on to be a key part of the development of the programs the university has today. He was also the founder of the West Virginia Botanical Garden (WVBG) and served as the first Executive Director of the WVBG. He held that role from 1999 through 2016, when he was honored as a Life Director of the WVBG and was given a key to the city of Morgantown. The WVBG also has the Longenecker Horticulture Gardens, named in his honor.

“He had a love for Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, and for 35 years he served as an advisor for the landscape architecture internship program at Falling Water in Mill Run, Pennsylvania,” Testman said.

Testman said that as a professor, he was very helpful, encouraging, and held “tree walks” and other events to augment classroom learning.

“He also was a good advisor at the personal level in life, and I haven’t really run across a person who enjoyed sharing his knowledge of plant material as much as George,” Testman said.

Landscape and horticulture-related jobs are growing in demand and pay well, according to Testman. The profession is dedicated to preserving and expanding the natural beauty of the state and is an ideal way to have a rewarding job while not leaving home.

“I cannot think of a better way to ensure our people—our own young people—serve as future stewards of our assets than being trained by our university’s landscape architecture program,” Testman said.

Applicants must be residents of West Virginia and a high school senior accepted to the West Virginia University Landscape Architecture or Horticulture Programs or an in-state resident student entering their first year of the WVU Landscape Architecture or Horticulture Program. Recipients must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher as full-time WVU students. The application process also includes an essay requirement expressing their interest in landscape architecture or ornamental horticulture and why they feel it is important to the state of West Virginia to develop future professionals in the nursery and landscape design industries.

The deadline to submit an application is April 22, 2024.

“If you know of someone who is going to college and is undeclared, this is a great opportunity for their future, and we have a scholarship you can take advantage of at this time,” Testman said. “And you don’t have to leave West Virginia.”