Columbus, OH — The Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association plans to welcome 200 students to its second annual Ohio High School Landscape Olympics Nov. 2 and 3 at The Ohio State University Agriculture Technical Institute in Wooster, Ohio. Educators and students from 20 schools and career centers across the state will travel to the hands-on competition.
In addition, the program has already garnered interest from more than a dozen green industry companies and associations that have signed on as sponsors to support the event, lead competitions and meet – and perhaps persuade – their future workforce.
“We were immediately on board,” said Gail Reinhart, human resources manager at Hidden Creek Landscaping in Hilliard, Ohio. “The Olympics gives us the opportunity to engage directly with students and provide insight on the many career choices that exist not only within our company but throughout the green industry. It’s a true grassroots effort to recruit the next generation.”
Hidden Creek Landscaping will lead the sales presentation competition at the event. Additional competitions will test and build students’ skills in plant identification; compact excavator and skid-steer operation; plant and hardscape installation; landscape maintenance; irrigation; truck and trailer maneuverability; and cost estimating.
To deliver an engaging experience for students, ONLA integrated some fun into the competition. A kick-off party with pizza and inflatable games will help build excitement. As an alternative to a career fair, a “speed networking” event will encourage exploration of the many career choices available in the industry, and a Fun Zone will provide activities for students who are not competing.
The Olympics intersects the high school educational experience at a critical point when juniors and seniors are starting to think more seriously about plans for after graduation. Roy Dria, an instructor at Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio, brought 34 students to the 2016 Olympics. He noted that at least one of his former students is now enrolled in horticulture classes at The Ohio State University Agriculture Technical Institute because of the interactions he received in the competition.
“All of my students really enjoyed the event, but it made an obvious long-term, life-altering change for one,” he said.
More information is available about this event here.