College students from around the United States are currently preparing to compete in the nation’s only collegiate horticulture “games,” which will be held, at Kansas State University, March 22–25, 2012. The event, Student Career Days, is in its 36th year and is organized by the nation’s lawn and landscape association, the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET).
Student Career Days is an annual three-day event designed to jumpstart horticultural careers for college students. Students from approximately 60 universities and colleges will compete in events directly related to the skills necessary for a career in the green industry, including tree climbing, hardscape installation, wood construction, sales presentation, skid steer operation, and plant identification. They will also participate in a career fair and networking events.
“This event allows students to interview for jobs and network with representatives from top green industry companies in the United States,” said Anna Walraven, director of Membership & Industry Development at PLANET. “Many students leave the event with job or internship offers.”
At last year’s event, Scott Carbone, a horticulture student at the University of Maryland, received a scholarship from Chapel Valley Landscape Co. He also secured an internship with Brickman, a national landscaping company through last year’s event. Carbone will be participating in Student Career Days again this year.
“The Career Fair at Student Career Days allowed me to connect with a number of green industry leaders in one place,” said Carbone. “It was also great to meet students with career goals similar to my own.”
Horticulture student Aaron Kirk from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, competed in his first Student Career Days event last year. Kirk, who will be graduating in December, looks forward to networking with representatives from green industry companies and hopes to achieve higher scores in the competitive field events at this year’s Student Career Days.
“The field events not only give students a chance to see how their techniques compare to industry standards, but also gives potential employers a chance to see students demonstrate their skills,” said Kirk.
Last year, 60 schools and more than 800 students competed at Student Career Days at Joliet Junior College, in Joliet, Ill. The top placing schools included Brigham Young University – Provo, Michigan State University, Brigham Young University – Idaho, Chattahoochee Technical College, University of Georgia, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Colorado State University, Columbus State Community College, and Mississippi State University.This year’s major sponsors include Stihl Inc. at the Platinum level; John Deere at the Gold level; Caterpillar Inc., Gravely, and New Holland Construction at the Silver level; and Brickman, Husqvarna, Pavestone, and Oldcastle at the Bronze level.