Young and Old Alike

PRO Magazine recently received a note and photo from a reader. In the email, Cari Croy of Croy’s Mowing in Ottawa, OH, writes: “I have attached a photograph that I took of my son reading (the January) issue of PRO Magazine. My husband is self-employed and enjoys many of the articles in your magazine. In the photograph you will see Wyatt, our 17 month old, enjoying your magazine too, although I am sure he enjoys the photographs more than the articles. He crawled into his toy Tonka dump truck to enjoy some good reading.†Cari concludes by adding: “I just thought you would like to know that your magazine has fans, young and old, at my house.†Thank you Cari. Wyatt looks to have a few years to go before joining his father in the field. Your note, however, brings to mind how important youth are to the future of the green industry. The responsibility we all share in getting the message to youngsters that a career in this field is challenging, rewarding and meaningful is increasingly important. How early is too early to start hearing this message? I would argue that giving a talk in front of elementary school students wouldn’t be too soon, and certainly, by junior high and high school, the wheels of commerce are starting to turn in the minds of teenagers. The obvious way to connect with these students is to participate in career fairs. But there are other venues too. A New Jersey contractor, for example, was recently given a community service award by PLANET for helping a local teenager fulfill his requirement to become an Eagle Scout. The contractor, Jody Shilan, owner of Jody Shilan Designs, helped the scout design and install the project—an enhanced elementary school entranceway. During the installation, Jody’s team worked with several scout troop members, many of whom had never before experienced what it was like to install a landscape design/build project. If our industry is allowed to reach its true growth potential, it will need an influx of workers at all levels, and the place to start recruiting is right at home in your local schools. Florida-based turf instructor John Piersol has outlined a series of things he thinks every contractor can and should do to start getting young people interested in this industry. While the labor shortage is the industry’s problem, the solution could very well be up to you. ~ Rod Dickens, senior editor of PRO