Stihl Inc. announced that it will again be the sole, platinum level sponsor at the 33rd annual Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Student Career Days. The three-day competitive event will take place March 26-29 at Cal Poly Pomona in Pomona, Calif. In addition to the main sponsorship, Stihl produces one of the team competitions and sponsors eight different competitive events. This is Stihl’s ninth year as the event’s top level sponsor.

“We are very excited about sponsoring PLANET Student Career Days again,” said Roger Phelps, promotional communications manager for Stihl Inc. “The talent, intelligence, dedication and enthusiasm displayed by more than 800 students from more than 60 collegiate programs around the country is proof that the future of the green industry is extremely bright, and we are proud to be a part of it.”

The three-day event gives college students interested in arboriculture, horticulture, and landscape design an opportunity to test their academic and competitive skills against their peers. Integrated into the schedule of events is a career fair with green industry companies to assist college seniors in pursuing their career aspirations upon graduation.

Throughout the three days of competition students will represent their schools in vying for a $5,000 award from Stihl and the 2009 championship title. Stihl also presents a check for $1,000 to the recipient of the Walt Peeples Spirit Award. The award is presented in memory of Walt Peeples, a long time supporter of the PLANET competition, and recognizes the team exhibiting the most camaraderie, sportsmanship, and dedication.

“Walt loved this event and these young people,” said Phelps. “His spirit lives on in these students.”

Stihl not only invests in the futures of college students, but is also passionate about increasing awareness in the minds of high school students that have an interest in arboriculture, horticulture, and landscape design but may lack the knowledge of professional career opportunities the industry offers. To achieve this, Stihl has sponsored the National FFA Organization (FFA) Nursery and Landscape Career Development Event (NLCDE) for six years. Stihl also underwrites the top three teams from the National FFA Nursery and Landscape Career Development Event, enabling them to attend the PLANET Student Career Days and participate in seminars and three competitive exhibition events.

“Stihl’s commitment to PLANET Student Career Days enables our high school FFA students to attend and get a first hand look at the competition they will face at the collegiate level,” said J.R. Peterson of the National FFA Foundation. “We thank Stihl and PLANET for the invitation.”

In addition to the competitive events, Stihl, a Founding Ambassador of the PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation (AEF), presents a $1,000 scholarship to the student with outstanding performance in Landscape Contracting studies. This year’s winner is Gregory Steele, of Cal Poly Pomona. The scholarship will be awarded at a special breakfast Sunday, March 29, at the Sheraton Fairplex Suites.

For more information on PLANET Student Career Days, please visit