SOUTH FEATURES


Auburn University Here We Come

More than 900 students from more than 60 schools primed for 2013 Student Career Days


The 37th Annual PLANET Student Career Days is set for March 7-10 at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala. For three days students enrolled in horticulture programs in colleges and universities across the country will compete in events that are directly related to the skills necessary for a career in the green industry. Last year more than 900 students representing 68 colleges traveled to Manhattan, Kan., to compete and network at the Student Career Days at Kansas State University.

Students from colleges and universities from across the United States tore into the 2012 hardscape competition at Kansas State University.
Click photo to enlarge.

Students from colleges and universities from across the United States tore into the 2012 hardscape competition at Kansas State University.
PHOTOS COURTESY THE PROFESSIONAL LANDCARE ASSOCIATION (PLANET)

This year's event, like previous events, is a whole lot more than competition among the students, as spirited as it is with 34 separate horticulture-related events. Students can also take advantage of 14 different educational workshops offered by some of the most experienced experts in the green industry. Participation in these workshops is not required in order to compete in the competitive events, but the workshop may be helpful in preparing the student for competition.

The Student Workshops and their sponsors are:

3D Exterior Landscape Design, Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.

Arboriculture, ArborMaster Training and Husqvarna

Compact Excavator Operation, John Deere

Computer Aided Landscape Design, DynaSCAPE Software

Estimating, Brickman

Exterior Landscape Design, Lied's Nursery Company

Irrigation I & II, Hunter Industries and Irrigation Foundation

Leadership, J.P. Horizons

Harscape Installation, Pavestone Company, Oldcastle

Sales, Gravely

Skid Steer, Caterpillar

Small Engine Repair, STIHL, Inc.

Truck & Trailer, Gravely

Woody Ornamental Plant I.D., Brickman

Irrigation installation is one of dozens of competitions to test the skill level
of students participating in the huge annual March event.
Click photo to enlarge.

Irrigation installation is one of dozens of competitions to test the skill level of students participating in the huge annual March event.

But, the real payoff for many of the students - at least those finishing their college programs and beginning their professional careers - will be the opportunity to land a job. Every year, established landscape companies (the large and the not-so-large companies) man booths at the Student Career Days Career Fair, conduct interviews and attempt to land smart young talent. The competition among the 50 or so companies seeking ambitious new employees is keen. It's quite a scene. This year's event will take place in the Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.

Students for this year's host school, Auburn, proudly carry their banner at last year's event at Kansas State. The rivalry
among participating schools is friendly, but intense and noisy also.
Click photo to enlarge.

Students for this year's host school, Auburn, proudly carry their banner at last year's event at Kansas State. The rivalry among participating schools is friendly, but intense and noisy also.

The recruiting process for students is highly competitive. Even during economic recessions, lawn, landscape, tree care and irrigation companies struggle with a shortage of well-educated potential employees. Because of that shortage, nearly 100 percent of students graduating from college horticulture and landscape programs have jobs offers. Student Career Days brings students and companies together to build a strong industry for the future.

STIHL sponsors the annual small
engine repair contest that draws
some top young mechanical minds.
Click photo to enlarge.

STIHL sponsors the annual small engine repair contest that draws some top young mechanical minds.

Student Career Days has a long and colorful history. It got its start in 1975 when horticulture professors at Mississippi State, Michigan State and The Ohio State University proposed a competition between their students. By 1977, that initial event had morphed into the first ALCA (now PLANET) Field Days with five schools participating - Ohio State, Texas Tech, Georgia Tech, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Mississippi State. That competition took place with the help of 18 industry members who paid their own expenses to help out at Mississippi State. Today, dozens more industry participants volunteer their time and talent to make Student Career Days the most raucous and fun annual event in the industry.

The event is organized by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), and is sponsored by companies, such as STIHL, John Deere, Caterpillar, Gravely, New Holland Construction, Brickman, Husqvarna, Oldcastle Architectural, Inc., Pavestone, and Lawn & Landscape.

To learn more about the 2013 Student Career Days, please visit www.studentcareerdays.org.