Last week, NALP Staff members Jenn Myers (Director of Workforce Development) and Rex Bishop (Director of Technical Education) attended the 90th Annual National FFA Convention & Expo. The sea of blue jackets stretched throughout the Indiana Convention Center, and out into the streets of downtown Indianapolis, as FFA hosted the country’s largest annual student gathering, including more than 500 scheduled events, and a large expo with over 400 exhibitors and vendors. This year’s event saw record attendance, with over 67,000 FFA members, advisors, supporters and guests from across the US.
NALP represented the landscape profession and its numerous career opportunities with a modern, fun booth in the ‘Collegiate Connection’ section of the Expo, near several NALP-member colleges and universities. We provided conversation-starting yard games to draw students in, including NALP-branded Giant Connect Four and Giant Jenga. The booth also showcased our new #WhyILandscape career-focused banner displays, a video loop of NALP career and NCLC videos, and contained distributable collateral for students and advisors, including our new careers handout, NCLC information, and details on our new LandscapeIndustryCareers.org site and job board. Beautiful plant material was provided by Indianapolis-based NALP member The Engledow Group; many visitors remarked that our plant material not only drew them in, but clearly helped indicate who we are!
Jenn and Rex were joined at the booth by Lynda Wightman (Hunter Industries, and member of NALP Workforce Development Committee), and together worked to spread the message that the landscape profession is both a vibrant and smart career choice. The positive response to our presence and message was overwhelming! Many expressed how pleased they were to see NALP and the landscape profession represented. We believe FFA members represent an audience vital to our profession’s future; we were thrilled to have engaged with thousands of students and advisors.
A highlight of FFA Convention & Expo every year is the Nursery/Landscape CDE (Career Development Event). During this competition, sponsored by STIHL, students showcase their skills in aspects of maintaining landscape plants and related products, evaluating equipment and services, and landscape design. We were thankful to speak with several competitors at the NALP booth. STIHL also provided $250 equipment certificates for the booth; these were awarded via drawing to a different FFA Chapter each day.
We look forward to attending this event in 2018 and beyond. If you are interested in learning more about our trip to Indianapolis, or participating with us next year, please contact Jenn Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org.