November is often a month of mindfulness and gratitude as you reflect on all the things you are thankful for. It’s also a time to give back to those who have supported you in your journey and aid others who are in need.
There are numerous methods to give back this season and year-round. Here are some of the ways that resonate with other landscape professionals.
Conduct Community Service Projects
Rather than simply donating money to a cause, many landscape companies prefer to give their time and skills within their local community.
“We prefer to do service projects, for sure,” says Jeff Rossen, CEO of Rossen Landscape, based in Great Falls, Virginia. “The impact is displayed. When you just give the money, you give the money, and it’s gone and you don’t necessarily know exactly where it’s going, but when we do a service project, we’re there, we’re taking pictures, we’re involved, we’re interacting. We want to interact as much as possible.”
Grunder Landscaping typically spends around $30,000 on community service projects a year.
“We feel it is crucial to set aside some funds and some labor hours to participate in community projects,” says Grunder. “Having our teams work together on a community project also inspires our employees and builds internal relationships in a meaningful way. One way that other companies can begin a community service program is to start small with a feasible project. Then as you are able, you can build your program from there.”
You can find projects that resonate with your team by asking for suggestions and finding causes they are passionate about. You will get more team engagement and involvement in projects that they enjoy or feel matters.
Participate in Project EverGreen
Another way to give back is to volunteer through Project EverGreen’s different initiatives. You can help restore green spaces through their GreenCare for Communities projects or you can support active-duty military families through GreenCare for Troops and SnowCare for Troops.
GreenCare for Communities revitalizes community green spaces. This option can be particularly beneficial if you and your team want to donate your skills but don’t have the bandwidth to spearhead a project entirely on your own.
Meanwhile, GreenCare for Troops provides complimentary basic lawn care and landscape maintenance services to military personnel with a deployed family member. Similarly, SnowCare for Troops provides snow and ice management to military families with a deployed family member.
The program is designed to provide peace of mind to the spouse who has to take on all the responsibilities of the household. Volunteers can offer as many services as they wish and take one one or multiple military families at a time.
“Giving back to military-based organizations is important to us because they risk their lives to protect us every single day,” says Dave Petti, owner of Turf Pride Lawn Care based in Mentor, Ohio. “Volunteering is the least that we can do to show our appreciation.”
Connect with Local Schools and Colleges
You can also give back by supporting your local schools and colleges’ efforts to educate students about the landscape industry and the environment. Volunteering to speak to students or demonstrating certain techniques can be greatly beneficial both for the students and your relationship with educators.
Todd West, Ph.D., professor of horticulture at North Dakota State University, based in Fargo, North Dakota, says he’s had one company demonstrate how to inject to treat emerald ash borer and another landscape company was able to provide additional harness sizes for his tree climbing and rigging class.
At the high school level, Southern Landscape Group offers students a four-day short course where they can gather hands-on training during the summer that leads to an internship if they’re interested.
You can also support these schools’ efforts to compete in the National Collegiate Landscape Competition by coaching or financially aiding the team.
Support the NALP Foundation
Choosing to give back to the NALP Foundation allows the Foundation to continue to provide nearly 100 scholarships annually to students enrolled in horticulture and related areas of studies at our nation’s universities.
“They help me immensely,” says Ian Holcomb, a senior at Michigan State University majoring in horticulture. “They will pay for my rent and help me get to school. They make me feel a great appreciation for NALP and the industry. It’s awesome to see the industry supporting students and it makes you feel like you’re seen and they appreciate us as much as we appreciate them.”
The Foundation has other initiatives like creating tools to attract, retain and cultivate a diverse workforce and new generation of leaders. They are developing methods to encourage students from K-12 to pursue and learn more about careers in the landscape industry.
“The Foundation could not exist without the generous financial support of landscape professionals,” says Paul Fraynd, NALP Foundation board member. “Whether you contribute by attending the fundraiser at ELEVATE, bidding on auction items or donating a sustaining scholarship, every little bit helps to fund our mission and create a culture of giving back in our industry. My hope is that we can continue to build on the great work that those who came before us have laid out. What an opportunity to make an impact on the world!”