Many of the country’s best and brightest green industry students gathered at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill., March 17–20, 2011, to compete in the 35th annual Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Student Career Days (SCD).

Sixty college teams, including one from Canada and two FFA high-school teams (a total of 875 students) participated in 28 individual and team competitions. Tree climbing, paver/hardscape installation, wood construction, plant identification, sales presentation, exterior/interior design, irrigation troubleshooting, skid steer, 3D exterior landscape design, personnel management, and small engine repair were only just a few of the events.

“We couldn’t have asked for a more energy-charged four days,” said PLANET Student Career Days Subcommittee Chair, Brett Lemcke, Landscape Industry Certified Manager. “The competitive spirit was clearly present, and while I think this year’s events were some of the most challenging we have developed, the students took them on and succeeded.”

Awards were given to individual winners, called “Superstars,” as well as to winning teams. The individual winners were, in first place, Kevin Whitaker of the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia); in second place, Alex Casillas of Cal Poly-Pomona (Pomona, California); and in third place, Dallas Gustafson of Colorado State University (Fort Collins, Colorado). 

Brigham Young University – Provo took first place in the overall competitive event, followed by Michigan State University in second place, and Brigham Young University – Idaho in third.

Aside from bragging rights, some students also received scholarships and award money at a special reception, sponsored by STIHL Inc. This year, PLANET gave $80,000 in scholarships and awards through its PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation. Students also took advantage of the opportunity to meet and interview with 51 green industry companies for full-time positions and internships at the on-site Career Fair.

PLANET thanks event sponsors STIHL Inc. at the Platinum level; JOHN DEERE at the Gold level; Caterpillar, Gravely, an Ariens Company Brand, and New Holland Construction at the Silver level; and BRICKMAN and Husqvarna at the Bronze level.

For a complete list of winners, please visit the Web at