Opportunities in the landscaping industry are abundant. And the students who attended the 2017 National Collegiate Landscape Competition in Provo, Utah, got a first-hand experience of every area and opportunity available to them.
Catch a glimpse into what these students are looking for in their studies, their careers and their potential employers.
Colleen Weynand, a landscape design student at Texas A&M University attended and competed for the first time at NCLC this year. Weynand placed second overall in the Sales Presentation competition and in the top 200 students out of the nearly 670 competing students. She says she is ready to line up more work experience. “I’m looking for a summer internship where I would be able to continue learning. I want to be educated on a subject once it’s done,” she says.
Although she is studying landscape design, Weynand shows passion for the whole field. “I like all of the opportunities that there are in this industry,” she says. “If you aren’t happy, you can find another area you may enjoy more.”
Some students who attended NCLC didn’t compete. Adam Goldstein, a student at Kansas State University, just switched his major to landscape production. He came to support his team and learn more about what the event and industry are all about.
Goldstein says he was happy with what he sees so far. “All of the people walking around the career fair was encouraging,” he says. “They all understand you start at the bottom and they are willing to help and have patience.” Although Goldstein is originally from New Jersey, he says his goal is to relocate for his career with his sights set on a welcoming company in Colorado or California. “I don’t like big companies as much,” he says. “I would like to work somewhere that feels like we are all a big family.”
Among the 60 schools competing at the 2017 NCLC, all the eligible students are earning a bachelor’s degree in a landscape-related field. This year Andrew Scheldorf from North Dakota State University competed in four events. “I really like how this industry is connected and we all have the same passions,” he says. He is studying horticulture science and plant improvement and is planning to go to graduate school.
After school, Scheldorf says he is more than willing to relocate and is particularly interested in the West Coast. “I am looking to work at a university or research facility. I’d like the freedom for research and ability to control what I do,” he says.
Another student from North Dakota State University, Garrett Schumacher, is also passionate about the industry. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else with my life,” Schumacher says. He is currently studying horticulture and wholesale nursery management and plans to work on a strawberry and tree farm that his family owns. Schumacher placed second overall in the Truck and Trailer Operation competition with his teammate Trevor Zens.
Professors, advisers and team coaches also have valuable things to say about their students and their ambitions that prospective employers should be eager to know.
Oscar Del Real was the adviser for the Cal Poly-Pomona team at NCLC this year. Del Real has two years of experience competing at NCLC and is now attending a graduate student as he studies to earn his master’s degree in plant science. His background is in sports turf, and Del Real says he would like to go into consulting.
“I enjoy educating others about the importance of this field,” he says. Respect, honesty and trustworthiness are the top three things he says he looks for in an employer. The Cal Poly-Pomona team placed eighth overall this year.
Another California coach, Benjamin Hoover, is an assistant professor in sustainable nursery production for Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. With 10 students competing at NCLC this year, half for the first time, the San Luis Obispo team placed 13th overall. Hoover says this is a field with a lot of job opportunities.
“Some students have had interviews with companies for internships and job in between competing in events while in Utah,” he says. When graduating, Hoover says students in the program at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo get six to 10 job offers. “Most love plants and being outside,” he says. “From the drive into town for NCLC, they were already trying to identify plants here, compared to what they are familiar with at home.”