Photos by Tom Fernandez
Ok, admit it. If you’re over 40 or so, at some point in your life you’ve muttered that phase, likely more than once. There is no doubt the younger generation can do things to get under your skin and raise your blood pressure. But then they can turn around and do some pretty cool things, too. The cool side was on ample display this weekend as over 750 college Horticulture students from 62 college and universities competed this weekend at the annual PLANET Student Career Days (SCD). For the initiated, SCD is the landscaping Olympics for undergraduate students across the US (and a few from Canada to boot). The competition is organized by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) and sponsored by companies such as Stihl, Gravely, and Husqvarna. Students competed in 28 events including arboricultural techniques, plant identification, skid-steer operation, sales presentation, paver construction and landscape installation. The event moves around the country each year, and Kansas State hosted this year’s event in Manhattan.
The logistics of the event are astounding. For example, in the paver construction, wood construction, and landscape installation events, 40 teams are given the exact same set of materials and tools. When the starting horn sounds the teams are given their plan and then allowed two hours to complete the job. Watching 40 two or three person teams racing against each other and the clock to complete their project is truly inspiring; as is the camaraderie and sportsmanship. At PLANET SCD everything is on the up and up. No performance enhancing substances, no under the table payments; just college kids working their hardest to do their best for themselves and their team. And everyone can contribute. The plant geek who can nail plant ID or the persuasive saleswoman-to-be who gets their customer to sign on the line can score as many points for their team as the athletic tree climber or skilled equipment operator. So, what’s the matter with kids these days? When you watch them compete in SCD: not a darn thing.
For more on PLANET student career days, including a pretty cool video clip on last year’s event go to: http://www.studentcareerdays.org/
For the record: BYU-Idaho was the overall winner this year. MSU finished 4th and Virginia Tech was 9th.
Students compete in Landscape CAD at PLANET SCD
Team MSU is all smiles after the Landscape Installation event in the mud-pit
MSU Horticulture club President Jackie Grow (left) closes the deal en route to a 3rd place finish in Sales Presentation