Searching for Olympic-Grade Talent
By Storm Mensing
Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions employs the best and brightest landscape professionals in the nation. Our latest search for young talent brought us to the Tar Heel State, where we attended the 2018 National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC) at Alamance Community College in Graham, North Carolina. The competition, known as the “Olympics of the landscaping industry,” is landscaping’s largest recruiting event.
The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) describes the competition as an annual three-day powerhouse event that brings together the best landscape and horticulture students, top industry companies, and dozens of the biggest industry manufacturers and suppliers. This year, more than 700 students from two- and four-year colleges demonstrated their skills in real-world, competitive events and networked with top companies, including Focal Pointe.
At the event, many students approached the Focal Pointe booth to discuss joining our team. We enjoyed talking with students about the St. Louis area and the landscaping business overall. Excitement about the future and ambition to succeed seemed to radiate from each student’s smiling face.
Focal Pointe wanted to do more than simply attend the career fair; we wanted to be a catalyst for the success of these future landscape professionals. Together with our national industry peer group, The Growth Network Peer Group, we held a drawing for a $1,000 scholarship. Congratulations to our scholarship winner, Brendan Dauber! Brendan attends Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio and will graduate next year with degrees in Plant Science and Landscape Technology.
The most exciting part of our week was watching the students compete. Sixty-two colleges and 710 students competed in 30 events including 3D landscape design, irrigation troubleshooting, landscape lighting, landscape plant installation, and small engine repair. One of our favorite events was the backhoe competition (pictured below), where students used the scoop of a backhoe to pick up soccer balls and softballs off orange safety cones and place them into five-gallon buckets.
Every student was very talented and a joy to watch perform. The future of landscaping is in good hands!