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Health care professionals receive special invite to visit DMACC greenhouse 

  • DMACC Horticulture students traditionally open the DMACC greenhouse for a public plant sale at the end of every spring semester. 
  • This spring, the public sale had to be canceled due to COVID-19, but students had already begun raising hundreds of plants. 
  • An idea to recognize and thank local health care workers with a special donation began to grow instead. 
  • UnityPoint Health-Des Moines is a longtime DMACC partner. 

Students enrolled in the DMACC Horticulture Program’s Greenhouse Production II (AGH276) course traditionally spend each spring semester tending to robust rows of vibrant flowers and plants in a modern greenhouse on the DMACC Ankeny Campus, culminating with a public sale that showcases their work.

This spring, however, the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of DMACC campuses and centers meant plans to hold a public sale were scrapped – but a new idea soon sprouted. After considering a variety of options, DMACC decided to donate approximately 1,500 containers of student-raised plants and flowers to local UnityPoint health care workers and facilities.

“This was a unique opportunity for us to do something special for local health care professionals, including many DMACC graduates, who have been working tirelessly to respond to COVID-19 in our community,” said DMACC President Rob Denson.

The DMACC donation included a recent invitation for UnityPoint health care workers to visit the DMACC greenhouse, with protective gear and social distancing in place, and choose from a wide variety of spring bedding plants and annuals in packs, pots and hanging baskets to take home and enjoy, free of charge. Additionally, DMACC donated a variety plants to the UnityPoint grounds team for landscaping use around the UnityPoint Taylor House Hospice, Ronald McDonald House and several UnityPoint Clinics.

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UnityPoint Health-Des Moines is a longtime DMACC partner, and the UnityPoint Health-Des Moines Health Sciences building on the DMACC Ankeny Campus houses state-of-the art classrooms and clinical training space for nearly 20 health science programs, including the College’s Nursing, Certified Nurse Aide (CNA), Respiratory Therapy, Medical Laboratory Technology and Paramedic Specialist Programs. A UnityPoint Health Physical Therapy Clinic is also located inside the Trail Point Aquatics & Wellness Center on the DMACC Ankeny Campus.

“We are privileged to partner with DMACC by offering physical and aquatic therapy to patients in our community,” said Dan Sweet, PT, Manager of Outpatient Therapy Services at UnityPoint Health-Des Moines. “We were excited to share DMACC’s offer of the plants and flowers to members of our Younker Rehabilitation team, including nurses and physical, occupational and speech therapists. The DMACC students produced a beautiful crop of flowers and plants this year, and the offer helped brighten the day for many during this time of uncertainty.”

DMACC Horticulture Program Chair and Professor Randall Vos said the program’s annual spring public sale typically grosses more than $10,000. Those funds are put back into the program to cover plants material and supplies, as well as DMACC Horticulture Club learning trips to regional horticulture hubs. A core group of 7 DMACC Horticulture students helped raise this year’s spring crop, which they began planning with Vos during the fall semester. 

“We were pleased that our spring crop could be donated in a meaningful way,” Vos said. “During challenging times, people often regain an appreciation for nature and its positive influence on our well-being.”

DMACC President Rob Denson said the donation was also an example of how communities are strengthened through education and student success.

“DMACC is proud to educate and train future health care professionals, and to work closely with UnityPoint Health in those efforts,” Denson said. ““We also take great pride in educating future horticulture professionals at DMACC and in the value of their work.

“Our students’ successes help make a lasting difference in our community.”

To learn more about the DMACC Horticulture Program, visit For more information about DMACC Health Sciences Programs, go to



Des Moines Area Community College, a public institution serving the educational and career training needs of Iowans, is committed to the lifelong success of its students. Situated in one of America’s most vibrant regions, DMACC offers 200 programs, certificates and transfer degrees, annually serving more than 70,000 credit and noncredit students on six campuses and six learning centers. Thanks to college-wide innovation including Continuous Process Improvement (CPI), new programs and affordable tuition, DMACC continues to experience solid growth. For more information, please visit

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