Kids ‘go for the green’ at Ohio High School Landscape Olympics
|By edited by Mary Elizabeth Williams-Villano|
Some competitors win job offers from landscape companies.
Individuals and teams from 18 Ohio high schools mowed, irrigated and estimated at the most recent Ohio High School Landscape Olympics. The annual event is a production of the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association and is hosted and sponsored by Ohio landscape companies and green industry corporations. Over 250 students competed in this years’ Olympics, the fourth one held so far.
The students met on the grounds of the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster to be judged on how well they performed various landscape-related tasks. The “events” included landscape installation, equipment operation, landscape maintenance, irrigation, cost estimating, sales and other relevant activities.
Competing in the Olympics has given numerous young people a head start on green industry careers. One of them is Zachary Gordon. He competed in 2016 and 2017 as a member of the Upper Valley Career Center, a vocational high school in Piqua, and now works as a landscape operations manager for MGZ Lawn and Grounds Care in Dayton. He’s also pursuing a landscape design degree. Now he returns to help coach students.
“The students who are here have a great opportunity to learn about the industry and fall in love (with the industry),” says Gordon. “They also get access to great job opportunities. By speaking with the companies who are here, some of them may even leave with job offers.”
Ohio Hi-Point career center in Bellefontaine snagged first place in the team competition. Upper Valley Career Center took second, and third place went to Jackson High School in Masillon.
Individual award winners included Keegan Minard, who got first place. Braden Scheetz from Jackson High School came in second and Gage Sheeley from Ohio Hi-Point was third place winner. A full list of team, individual and competition-specific winners can be found at onla.org.
The competitions were hosted by Benchmark Landscape Construction Inc.; the Columbus State Community College Landscape Program; Exscape Designs; FX Luminaire; Grunder Landscaping Co.; Hidden Creek Landscaping; Hunter Industries; ISA; Ohio CAT; OSU ATI; OTF; Peabody Landscape Group; Schiller Grounds Management; Unilock; Willoway Nurseries Inc; and the Wolf Creek Company.
Sponsors included Benchmark Landscape Construction Inc.; the Bobcat Company; Bryan Equipment; the Columbus State Community College Landscape Program; EMI; Enviroscapes; Exscape Designs; FX Luminaire; Grass Groomers Inc; GreenScapes Landscape Architects & Contractors; Grunder Landscaping Co.; Hidden Creek Landscaping; Hunter Industries; ISA; M. J. Design Associates Inc.; McCullough’s Landscape & Nursery LLC; Nufarm America Inc. (a gold sponsor); Ohio CAT; OSU ATI; OTF; Peabody Landscape Group; Rain One Inc.; Rice's Landscapes Redefined; Rine Landscape Group Inc.; Schiller Grounds Management; The Davey Tree Expert Company; The Pattie Group; Unilock; Willoway Nurseries Inc.; the Wolf Creek Company; and Yard Solutions.
ONLA leads, promotes and facilitates the success and growth of green industry businesses. Its more than 1,300 members include nursery stock growers, garden center operators, landscape contractors, landscape design and grounds maintenance firms, arborists, students enrolled in landscape and horticulture programs in the state and allied suppliers.