More than 800 students attended the 43rd annual National Collegiate Landscaping Competition (NCLC) hosted by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) in Fort Collins, Colo. 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. 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.

Stihl Inc. has been the Platinum sponsor of NCLC for more than 18 years, and sponsored individual competitions, including small engine repair and wood construction. 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.

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 Inc. 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. This year, Kasandra Hernandez of Cuyahoga Community College was awarded a $2,500 Platinum Ambassador Scholarship. Hernandez is studying plant science and landscape technology.

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.