The Bright Future of the Green Industry

The future of the Green Industry looks pretty bright. That’s the overwhelming impression provided by the 35th annual Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Student Career Days (SCD) event March 17-20 in Joliet, Ill. The students in attendance exhibited not only knowledge and skill related to Green Industry topics and practices, but also an overall excitement, eagerness and passion for the industry. In addition, the wide range of companies on hand interviewing — and hiring — students is an extremely positive sign for the state of the industry and the continuing growth of landscape and tree care companies.

PLANET President David Snodgrass, Landscape Industry Certified Manager, said that he doesn’t often use the label “wild success,” but if anything stands up to that moniker, Student Career Days is it.

“The event allows students to interview for jobs and network with representatives from the top Green Industry companies in the United States,” said Anna Walraven, director of Industry Development at PLANET. “Many students leave the event with job or internship offers.”

“These students are the future of the Green Industry, and the passion and determination of these students continues to inspire us year after year,” said Roger Phelps, promotional communications manager for STIHL Inc., lead sponsor of the event.

Sixty college teams, including one from Canada and two FFA high school teams (875 students total) participated in 28 individual and team competitions, including landscape design, annual and perennial identification, business management, equipment operation, irrigation assembly and design, plant problem diagnosis, sales presentation, and much more.

Awards were given to individual winners, called “Superstars,” as well as to winning teams. The individual winners were, in first place, Kevin Whitaker of the University of Georgia; in second place, Alex Casillas of Cal Poly-Pomona; and in third place, Dallas Gustafson of Colorado State University.

Brigham Young University – Provo took first place in the overall competitive event, followed by Michigan State University in second place, and Brigham Young University – Idaho in third.

According to Dr. Phil Allen, CLP, professor of the Landscape Management Program at Brigham Young University, professionalism on the part of the students attending Student Career Days has increased tremendously throughout the years, and it pays off for the students.

“We continue to place our graduates in excellent positions with top Green Industry companies, and owe much of this success to the great educational and networking opportunities that are available through attending Career Days,” said Allen. “Competitions help prepare students for the real world by motivating them to do their best and learn from successes as well as failures.”

Above photos by John KmittaAccording to Allen, there are still plenty of challenges for students entering the Green Industry. The difficult part is that most major Green Industry companies tend to hire students to start at the bottom and work up. He added that SCD and industry leaders would like to see more Green Industry companies bring in qualified students on an internship basis so that they can eventually enter the company at a higher level.

That said, SCD continues to be a success and a bright sign for the future of the industry.

“We couldn’t have asked for a more energy-charged four days,” said PLANET Student Career Days Subcommittee Chair, Brett Lemcke, Landscape Industry Certified Manager. “The competitive spirit was clearly present, and while I think this year’s events were some of the most challenging we have developed, the students took them on and succeeded.”

PLANET AEF scholarships awarded at Student Career Days

The Professional Landcare Network Academic Excellence Foundation (PLANET AEF) presented $80,000 in scholarships and awards to students at the PLANET 35th annual Student Career Days event March 17-20, 2011, at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois.

PLANET AEF was created to help Green Industry students, the potential future leaders of the industry, fund their education. These leaders of tomorrow will define the standards of professionalism and use their education to meet the challenges of the future.

Seventy scholarships were distributed at a special reception, sponsored by STIHL Inc., and held at the start of the event on March 17, 2011.

The PLANET AEF board of directors announced the following 2011 scholarship recipients:

President’s Scholarship ($2,500): Micah Wood, Brigham Young University – Idaho

Platinum Ambassador Scholarships ($2,500 each):

Damgaard Family Landscape Contracting Scholarship: Dallas Gustafson, Colorado State University
JOHN DEERE Green Industry Scholarship: Valerie Kupczak-Rios, Milwaukee Area Technical College
Scott Byron & Co. Scholarship: Matthew Rietschlin, The Ohio State University

Ambassador Scholarships ($1,000 each):

Akerman Family Scholarship: Michelle Jernigan, Ozarks Technical Community College
The Theodore W. Brickman, Jr. Scholarship: Lauren Robinson, Sam Houston State University
The Bruce Company Scholarship: Earnest Thacker, Auburn University
Chapel Valley Landscape Co. – The Reeve Family Scholarship: Scott Carbone, University of Maryland
CoCal Landscape Scholarship: Brenda Landhuis, Michigan State University
The Davey Tree Expert Company, Commercial Grounds Management Division Scholarship: Jessica Briscoe, Brigham Young University – Provo
Dennis’ Seven Dees Landscaping, Inc. Scholarship: Bethany Hansen, Brigham Young University – Provo
David J. Frank Landscape Contracting Career Builder Scholarship: Joel Balentyne, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Gachina Landscape Management, The Gachina Family Scholarship: Brian Watters, Chattahoochee Technical College
The Parley Glover Memorial Scholarship: Trenton Spratling, Brigham Young University – Provo
The Glowacki Family Scholarship: Nathan Bynum, Hinds Community College
Gravely Landscape Maintenance Scholarship: James Wyble, Penn State University
GroundMasters, Inc. Scholarship: Donald Bischof, Cincinnati State Technical & Community College
HighGrove Partners Scholarship: Brad Allison, Mississippi State University
Debra Holder and Family Scholarship: Jacqueline Grow, Michigan State University
Hunt Family Scholarship: Timothy McAlister, Michigan State University
Hunter Industries Scholarship: Sara Judd Downing, Illinois Central College
Husqvarna Forest and Garden Scholarship: Jennifer McElroy, Joliet Junior College
Jacobsen Landscape Design and Construction Scholarship: Adam Wild, State University of New York – Cobleskill
Ron and Sally Kujawa Scholarship: Deborah Flanders, Dakota County Technical College
Tom and Carol Lied Scholarship: Andrea Hansen, Brigham Young University – Idaho
Shirley B. Mangum Scholarship: Emily Tinalli, Farmingdale State College
Vito Mariani, Sr. Scholarship: Joshua Peede, Sandhills Community College
The James Martin Associates/Martin Family Scholarship: Kyle Gingerich, Southern Illinois University
R.P. Marzilli and Company Scholarship: Royal Healy, University of Massachusetts – Amherst
The Marjorie and B. E. Minor Scholarship: Brooke Schultz, Kansas State University
Moore Landscape Scholarship: Jing Zhang, Cuyahoga Community College
Bill and Mary Murdy Scholarship: Jeffrey Hillman, Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo
OneSource Landscape and Golf Scholarship: Joseph Juricic, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Richard J. Ott Family Scholarship: Kyle Worthy, Clemson University
PLANET AEF Endowed Scholarship: Vallie Pond, Brigham Young University – Idaho
STIHL Landscape Contracting Scholarship: Nicole Imber, Owens Community College
Toro/Exmark Scholarship: Lanae Ricks, Brigham Young University – Idaho
TruGreen Companies Scholarship: Cheryl Gress, Chattahoochee Technical College
ILT Vignocchi Scholarship: Juan Franco Coronado, West Virginia University

 Above photos courtesy of STIHL, Inc.PLANET AEF Scholarships ($1,000 each):

Tyler Alexander, Iowa State University; Joslyn Amato, Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo; Lacey Balser, Brigham Young University – Provo; Lisa Denison, Chattahoochee Technical College; Cohan Fish, Brigham Young University – Provo; Jennifer Frodsham, Brigham Young University – Provo; Scott Getz, Southern Illinois University; Grant Hardy, Brigham Young University – Provo; Philip Hatfield, The Ohio State University; Judy-Lynn Hoppe, Chattahoochee Technical College; Alan Humble, Chattahoochee Technical College; Benjamin Johnson, Brigham Young University – Idaho; Humzah Khraim, Chattahoochee Technical College; Starlene Link, The Ohio State University; Patty Panek, Joliet Junior College; Corey Pangborn, The Ohio State University; Sarah Peterson, Dakota County Technical College; Anita Phillips, Chattahoochee Technical College; Kevin Porter, Chattahoochee Technical College; Donna Reincke, Joliet Junior College; Matthias Rich, Brigham Young University – Idaho; Richard Rudiger, University of Maryland; Annie Sanders, Chattahoochee Technical College; Misti Schaefer, Hinds Community College; Luke Serbina, The Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture; Adam Sink, Brigham Young University – Idaho; Kyle Steadman, Brigham Young University – Idaho; Cassie Templeton, Chattahoochee Technical College; Jerrilyn Uelen, County College of Morris; Jaclyn Van Der Heyden, The Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture; and Gregg Wertz, Kansas State University.

The PLANET AEF also awarded the top three winning students, known as “Superstars,” a total of $3,000 at the closing ceremonies March 20.

First Place — $1,500 Kevin Whitaker, University of Georgia

Second Place — $1,000 Alex Casillas, Cal Poly – Pomona

Third Place — $500 Dallas Gustafson, Colorado State University

PLANET AEF names 2011 Outstanding Educator of the Year

The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Academic Excellence Foundation (AEF) announced the recipient of its 2011 Outstanding Educator of the Year Award — Byron John, faculty adviser at Brigham Young University – Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho. The award was presented March 20 at PLANET’s Student Career Days event.

The Outstanding Educator of the Year Award was developed by the PLANET AEF, in cooperation with the PLANET Accreditation Committee, to recognize professors who have made significant contributions to green industry education. Educators nominated for this award have devoted time, energy, and enthusiasm to their programs and to the education of future leaders in the industry.

Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science degree at Utah State University in 1979; M. Ed. at Idaho State University in 1992; and Graduate Study at Utah State University, John started his own design build company in the resort town of Park City, Utah. He spent 10 years in the industry, and then went on to teach landscape design classes at Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho. John assumed the position of chairman for the Horticulture Department — a position he held for several years. Ricks College transitioned from a junior college to the current four-year institution of Brigham Young University – Idaho where John still teaches.

John is known to his students and peers as being extremely passionate about the subjects he teaches and having the ability to pass that enthusiasm on to his students. Student advising and career development have been a focus of his tenure at BYU – Idaho. With his concern for the future of his students and their quality of life, he takes the time to meet with them in and out of class and enjoys taking them on industry excursions.

“To see my students blossom into productive, contributing members of society and the Green Industry is a thrill,” said John. “I wake up every morning knowing that there is something new I will learn this day, and that my students will be eager to expand their skills in contributing to this industry. Ours is a passionate industry, and is about making our clients lifestyles better. I cherish my association with my fellow faculty and industry members and am honored and humbled to be chosen as this year’s recipient.”

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