Phil Allen, Ph.D., CLP, a professor of landscape management at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, is sick of millennials, Gen Z’ers, or whatever the latest crop of young people is labeled, being stereotyped as lazy and entitled.
“I don’t subscribe to that notion, don’t believe it at all. I love them. Maybe they’re not workaholics like my generation was — they want to have a balanced life, something that most people realize at some point we all need,” he says.
Allen has taught many young men and women who went straight from the parchment podium to founding very successful green industry businesses. “One of my former students has never set foot in the state of New York, but he has a landscape company there where he subs out all the systems to take care of foreclosed homes until they can be sold. He’s systematizing it like a fast food franchise and is now expanding it to several states.”
This generation does not know a time when computers, smartphones and the internet were not a part of everyday life, and that, too, is working for them. “These kids can take technology and run circles around the old ways of doing things,” Allen says.
How do we attract more young people like this? “The National Association of Landscape Contractors has been working on this and so has the Tree Care Industry Association,” says Allen. “Whether it’s landscape design, design-build, irrigation, arboriculture or something else, we need to help young people and their parents recognize that these are truly professions. Not everybody’s cut out to be in a cubicle.”
And BYU understands equally as important as finding a field that interests a student, providing them with the tools to be successful in business is part and parcel . “A lot of these kids just love creating beauty outdoors. While that’s important, knowing your costs and understanding the fundamentals of business is very important. Our kids at BYU are very fortunate in that we make them get a business minor. They don’t have a choice.”