More than 800 college students from 70 colleges and universities competed for top honors at the Professional Landcare Network’s (PLANET) recent Student Career Days, the collegiate championship for the green industry, held at Auburn University from March 7-10. STIHL, Inc. serves as the lead, platinum sponsor for the event, where students pit their expertise against other top college teams and interview with some of the leading green industry companies.
To improve their professional expertise, students compete in academic and practical events as diverse as small engine repair, computer design, wood construction, annual and perennial identification, arboriculture techniques, business management, hardscape installation, landscape plant installation, plant problem diagnosis and woody ornamental plant identification. The competition also provides a chance to for students to learn from top experts.
Brigham Young University-Idaho placed first out of more than 70 schools and received $5,000 from STIHL, Inc. Brigham Young University-Provo placed second.
As part of the event PLANET organized a career fair which attracted many of the top landscape and horticulture companies from around the country. “One of our students has four job offers and is in the enviable position of deciding which best suits her career goals during the plane ride home,” said Phil Allen, faculty advisor for Brigham Young University-Provo. “The importance of this event to the success of these student’s professional endeavors can’t be overstated. Members of our team received more than 25 job or internship offers during their time here.”
In addition to its role as lead event sponsor, STIHL was the lead sponsor for two of the skill competitions. More than 120 students competed in the STIHL, Inc. small engine repair and wood construction events. First place honors went to:
- Small engine repair: Aaron Kirk of Brigham Young University-Provo topped 40 competitors in the small engine repair event. A written exam determined qualifiers for the practical exam, where a hands-on, timed, repair session with a STIHL chain saw determined expertise in identifying and solving engine problems.
- Wood construction: Micah Wood and Trevor Stevens from Brigham Young University-Idaho took top honors against 40 teams in a timed event testing each team’s ability to read blueprints and construct a wooden bench. Judges evaluated the quality of construction, neatness and safety during the construction process to determine the winning team.
STIHL also made it possible for two high school FFA teams from North Carolina and Minnesota to attend PLANET Student Career Days in order to introduce the next generation to green industry skills. The Southern Alamance FFA team from North Carolina and the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winstead FFA team from Minnesota earned this honor by placing first and second respectively in the 2012 National FFA Nursery and Landscaping CDE competition.