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Jim Paluch’s message at the 36th Annual Student Career Days was motivating the industry, and its customers, to head outside.

Brian Horn | March 28, 2012

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Jim Paluch had never been to a hockey game before, and though he enjoyed the game, the guy selling Crunch 'n Munch was much more interesting to him.

Aisle to aisle, the guy went selling with such enthusiasm that he had people who weren’t even hungry throwing five bucks at him for a bag. And while the game, where the hometown Boston Bruins won in overtime, was entertaining, Paluch said people leaving the arena were all talking about the Crunch 'n Munch guy. Paluch eventually got in touch with him a couple of weeks after the game to find out what makes him tick. He also wanted to find out how much he made a year selling Crunch 'n Munch.

“$65,000 a year,” Paluch said. “He had a style to him that was amazing.”

Paluch, who was the speaker for the PLANET Career Development Series at the 36th Annual Student Career Days, said it’s not the product, but instead it’s the person selling the product that will lead to success.

The owner of JP Horizons also spoke at length about Come Alive Outside. Come Alive Outside is a movement started by Paluch throughout the green industry urging individuals, families, communities and businesses to engage in the benefits of outdoor spaces and activities.

“If nobody is going outside, we better get into interiorscaping really fast,” Paluch said.
If people aren’t enjoying their outdoor surroundings, they won’t invest money in it, which will leave a lot less work for LCOs and contractors, Paluch said.

He had stats that showed we eat too much, don’t sleep enough and play too many video games – all in all an unhealthier existence than previous generations. But the couch potato society is now your competition – a generation that loves fast food, video games and staying up late, and it’s up to the industry to motivate people to get outside and appreciate nature.
Come Alive Outside also extended to the younger generation.

Students from 15 FFA chapters had the opportunity to interact with Kansas State horticulture student mentors and landscape contractors to plan Come Alive Outside projects for their local communities this spring. The students could present their projects, like installing a butterfly garden, to the college students and the landscape contractors and receive feedback on what they could do differently.

The chapters will now go back to their areas and implement the changes, and continue to communicate with their mentors and contractors they met at Student Career Days. They can also put the projects on YouTube, taking a local project and going viral with it.

John Deere will award the winning FFA Chapter with $1.500.00 and the K State Mentor with a $1,000 scholarship.

It’s an opportunity for the green industry to give back to their community and to “show the benefits of responsible landscape management,” said Ken Taylor, general sales manager for the corporate business division of John Deere.  

“I love it. I was so charged-up by the end of the day,” said CoCal Landscape owner, Chuy Medrano of the kids’ enthusiasm for the projects.

More than 800 students from 64 schools across the U.S. and Canada were on the campus of Kansas State University for the Student Career Days event organized by PLANET. Students competed in 28 events including tree climbing, paver patio building, identification of horticulture specimens, and a skid-steer driving competition, among other events.

Also as part of the Student Career Days program, students had a chance to meet with more than 40 companies who are here recruiting and educating the new generation of green industry pros about their companies.

You can find the winners from the events here: www.studentcareerdays.org/about/results.cfm.

The 2013 Student Career Days will happen March 7-10 on the campus of Auburn University in Auburn, Ala.

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