When the owners of Providence Forge, Virginia-based L.G. Scott announced they were going to enroll two apprentices in NALP’s Landscape Management Apprenticeship program, Ryan Janney jumped at the opportunity to become a landscape apprentice. The chance to be able to “work and go to school at the same time without digging himself into total debt” was extremely appealing.
“I’m still working and providing for my family while also furthering my education and my career,” Janney says. “I was intrigued right way. It was an easy ‘Yes’ to decide to enroll.”
We asked Janney (who was just about to complete the landscaping module when we spoke to him) what he’s learning as an apprentice and what he likes so far.
Landscape Apprentice Viewpoint: Apprenticeship Will Give you a Big-Picture View
Janney says one of the most interesting aspects of the program has been developing a broader understanding of the industry. He’s getting the chance to learn about all facets of what goes into this career path. He also believes this will change the perception of what it means to be a landscaper. In the past, Janney says, this hasn’t always been viewed positively.
“I think there are a lot of people out there who just think this job is about cutting grass. There’s so much more to it than that,” Janney says. “I think this apprenticeship program will help to change that perspective and that will benefit all of us.”
Landscape Apprentice Viewpoint: The Program Will Challenge You
Janney has not found the program intimidating or difficult—but he has found that it challenges him in a good way. Since being challenged is how one ultimately learns and grows, he says this is a definite positive.
“It’s also made me ask questions, and I think that’s really been beneficial,” Janney shares. “For instance, I can come into work and say to Luke [the owner], ‘I was reading about a task and I’ve seen you perform it differently. Can you show me your way and tell me why you do it that way?’ It’s opened the door for really helpful conversations like that. It is already laying a foundation. I have a better understanding of why and how to do the work we do.”
Landscape Apprentice Viewpoint: You Can Adapt the Program to How You Learn
Since everyone learns differently, Janney says it has been incredibly valuable that the apprenticeship program incorporates multiple teaching methods. As a result, he says it “never leaves you questioning anything.” There is always a way to learn it all.
“Even if you don’t see someone performing it directly in front of you, you can read about it or you can watch a video,” Janney shares. “I feel the program also starts out easily with safety and prevention information. That should naturally be what you learn first. It eases you in.”
Landscape Apprentice Viewpoint: Remember, It’s a Commitment
While Janney thinks this program is going to be great for the industry and he is excited to benefit from it, he says anyone who is considering becoming an apprentice should recognize it is a serious commitment. It’s not for the person who is going to decide they don’t like landscaping after all.
“If you’re coming from outside the industry and you’re not sure, I’d say give it three months in the field. Make sure it’s something you like doing before you go all-in on the program,” Janney suggests. “For me, I knew from day one that being outside all day is exactly where I want to be. But it’s hard, hands-on work and it’s not for everyone. Get a taste of it. If it’s where you want to be, then this is a great way to make a career out of it.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: Go here for a video of L.G. Scott’s two apprentices sharing their stories.