A beehive of activity - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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A beehive of activity

Joliet Junior College is already a beehive of activity.  It has been for months, laying the groundwork for this week’s PLANET Student Career Days.  The adrenalin flows; the energy is absorbed from the very events themselves and from each other.

The industry representatives are especially interesting to watch.  They do stuff like this all the time; appear at events, provide support, and educate consumers about their products and services.  At SCD, I believe, it is a little different.  They too are swept up in the enthusiasm that only college students can generate. We all understand the amounts of time and money that our major sponsors donate.  But maybe you don’t realize how much genuine love and support their representatives give.  Let me share a couple of examples of above and beyond. 

Roger Phelps, who is the Promotional Communications Manager of STIHL Inc., is a familiar smiling face at every SCD.  Always energetic at PLANET providing an exciting, entertaining, educational experience for all the competitors, he carries his professional interest in the students beyond the events of the day.  Recently a student was traveling in Virginia Beach where STIHL, Inc. is headquartered. Roger took time from his busy work schedule to meet with them and arranged a private tour of the facility with Eddie Anderson.  Eddie, whose job at STIHL is to create training manuals, was well known to this student since it was he who created the curriculum and test for Small Engine Repair, which is this student’s event! Eddie, a former school teacher is a quintessential educator and this shows in his respect for the student and for the process. Roger, Eddie, and all the people at STIHL understand that these highly trained and competitive young (and not so young) adults are the future of the landscape industry and of their own company.   Oh, and if you haven’t friended Roger on Facebook or are not following his Tweets you are missing out on so many helpful current industry updates and so much of his lively personality.

At Cal Poly Pomona one student got to an I.D. event and realized that they did not have a clipboard with her.  I was asked to find one if I could.  Before I got all the way across campus to where my own clipboard was, I spotted Ken Taylor of John Deere.  He waved at me, wanting to chat.  Breathlessly, I asked him if he had a clipboard that I could borrow so the student would be comfortable at their event.  He didn’t.  But he did quickly remove his personal items from his own portfolio and insisted I take it as well as a pen.  The next year, in 2010 at Chattahoochee Tech, every student was given a beautiful John Deere portfolio.  Ken’s genuine interest in the success of each competitor made not only one student happy, but the entire body of competitors more successful.

I could tell you so many stories about every sponsor who have given personal support to students.  These sponsors, and those of individual events, work hard all year long with PLANET and with the hosting school to ensure an experience that has schools and competitors coming back for more, year after year.  Having worked closely with these sponsor representatives for two very different SCDs, I know firsthand that whatever they are asked to do, they do willingly.  Whatever support the host school needs, they provide in a heartbeat.  They are thinking constantly of ways they can help each individual student attain personal success.   Although they have been doing this for years, many from the inception of SCD, they do not waver in their personal generosity. 

Lesson learned: talk to the sponsors.  Get to know them on a personal basis.  Ask questions and really listen to their answers.  You will be that much more knowledgeable about the industry in which you seek to build a career. And, you will have a friend for life.