Students crouch in the dirt, carefully laying sod and arranging plants in artful designs. Others roll through courses on backhoes and skid steers. Still, others carefully inspect the leaves, colors, and textures of plants, working to identify an abundance of flowers and shrubs. Amid the excitement, students make time to connect with each other and with professionals from the landscape industry during the National Collegiate Landscape Competition.
Approximately 500 students and dozens of landscape companies came together at Mississippi State University for the competition. Forty-three students, 28 women and 15 men, from the plant and landscape systems program represented BYU—and they represented well! They came away from the event with numerous competition wins, invaluable networking experiences, and thousands of dollars in scholarships.
Students began preparing for the competition last fall by studying for and running through trials of their events. They could each compete in five of the available events including business management, landscape maintenance, equipment operation, plant identification, and hardscape installation.
Students scored points based on their performance in each event. These scores translated into individual wins, and individuals’ points were added together to create a team score for each college.
BYU students placed in the top three in 13 different competitions:
3D Exterior Landscape Design (computer): Leon Sato (1st)
Computer Aided Landscape Design: Spencer Broberg (2nd)
Construction Cost Estimating: Tiana Robinson (1st); Grant Pullan (3rd)
Exterior Landscape Design: Amanda Chambers (1st)
Employee Development: Johanna Davis and Ariana Smith (2nd)
Hardscape Installation: Conner Galmeister and Israel Boekweg (1st)
Interior Landscape Design: Vanessa Pien (1st)
Interior Plant Identification: Heather Goff (2nd)
Maintenance Cost Estimating: Emily Morin (1st)
Mini-Track Loader Operation: Conner Galmeister (3rd)
Plant Problem Diagnosis: Jesse Earl (1st)
Sales Presentation: Ashley Beazer (2nd)
Turf and Weed Identification: Clarissa Peterson (3rd)
BYU earned 2nd place in the overall team competition, just 11 points behind the 1st place winners.
In addition to preparing for competitions, students spent the semester writing resumes and attending lectures on etiquette. At the event, they met with landscape professionals and students from other schools in the spirit of networking. “Our philosophy is, focus on one competition and the networking and you get a lot out of the event,” explains Greg Jolley, a BYU plant and wildlife sciences professor. Many companies and professionals participate in the event, and “they’re there primarily to recruit students to work for them.”
Students also earned thousands of dollars in scholarships. The scholarships were awarded based on students’ practical experience, landscape-related career goals, academic achievement, and prior participation in the event. BYU students earned 10 of the 75 available scholarships, and Ashley Beazer (PWS ’23) earned the President’s Scholarship—the most prestigious scholarship awarded. Isaac Broberg, Heather Goff, Evan Wolters, Tyler Stewart, Leon Sato, Ashlee Weight, Clarissa Peterson, Spencer Broberg, and Carissa Hecker also earned scholarships.
At the end of the competition, BYU invited everyone to attend next year’s competition in Provo. “We’re really excited to host next year,” says Jolley. “Hosting on campus is a great opportunity to bring people on campus who’ve never experienced it before.”
Gesturing to the early April snow, he adds, “We just hope it’s not like this next year.”