To solve the growing challenges of skilled labor shortage, the leaders of the landscape industry united to showcase the vast opportunities available to landscape and horticulture graduates. Students from more than 60 of the nation’s top horticulture and landscape collegiate programs competed in 29 individual and team events at Colorado State University.
After three days of competition, Brigham Young University’s team was named the event’s overall champion for a third year in a row and received $5,000 from Stihl Inc., the event’s platinum sponsor for more than 18 years.
Jonathan Cerritelli of Virginia Tech took home first place in the small engine repair competition, which challenged students to repair a Stihl BG 56 C-E handheld blower. After each unit was fully checked and verified to be in working order, it was packaged and sent to the participating schools for their department’s use.
In wood construction, Zach Varner and Clint Kiser of Mississippi State University took the top honors. The event required a two-person team from each university to demonstrate proficiency in constructing a wood structure from a plan.
In addition to showcasing their skills in competitive events, students met representatives from almost 100 landscape industry companies and associations at the NCLC Career Fair where they learned about internships and potential career paths.
Stihl also awards an annual scholarship at the NALP Foundation Scholarship reception to a student who demonstrates outstanding leadership and industry potential. The foundation has awarded close to $1 million in scholarships to nearly 1,000 students since 1998.
Kasandra Hernandez of Cuyahoga Community College was awarded a $2,500 Platinum Ambassador Scholarship this year. Hernandez is studying plant science and landscape technology.