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Impact of R & R and Legislative Day on the Hill for Tolles Students

photo credit: Philippe Nobile
photo credit: Philippe Nobile

The students at Tolles Career & Technical Center’s Turf, Landscape, & Greenhouse Mgt. Program have been blessed and honored to participated in the Renewal and Remembrance Day and Legislative Day on Capitol Hill for the second consecutive year.  Each of my six students, two of whom were returning for their second year of service, got more from this experience than they could have ever imagined.

After our participation in 2008, my students told me that they expected me to allow them to participate again in 2009. Thus, without hesitation, we jumped at the opportunity to particiapte in this outstanding activity. And our school was 110% supportive of the program.

The value in the R & R program to my students is the chance to pay forward to the young men and women who gave the ultimate scarifice and to honor them and their families. This was a great lesson that could not have been taught in any classroom setting — it was humbling for each of us. My students also had the opportunity to network with green industry companies and leaders as they worked side-by-side and met at meals and receptions. What a great growth opportunity for the students. I think it was also great for the industry to see that the future of our industry is bright with young people who care about their country and our industry.

The Legislative Day on Capitol Hill is a tremendous opportunity for our students to see their government in action. We have had face-to-face meetings with Senator Voinovich and also met with staff from our congresswoman’s office and Senator Brown’s office.  In fact, Congresswoman Kilroy’s office set up a meeting with Steven Ayers, U.S. Capitol Architect, for the students to ask questions about career pathways. Wow! What a great experience. In turn, Mr. Ayers set up a meeting with the curator of the US Botanical Gardens for our students.

Another benefit of this experience is that our students were able to learn about internship opportunities with the US Capitol, Botanical Gardens, and landscapers across the country. One of my students is in contact with a landscape firm in Arizona to set up an internship with his company this coming year. A win for everyone!

One evening we conducted our own leadership program that involved attending the Marine Corps Parade at Iwo Jima and a personally guided tour of the momuments at night. In fact, we were outside the White House at midnight to see Marine One land on the South lawn as the President returned from the Baseball All Star Game.

My students have already told me, “We are going back again next year.” So, yes, we will be there! I encourage all high school students and teachers to consider participating in this outstanding leadership, service project sponsored by the green industry. Your students and you will not be disappointed.

Check out another blog entry about our students participating in R&R – by the Association for Career and Technical Education.

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