Throughout his life, Kevin Kehoe, Aspire co-founder, made charitable contributions to the NALP Foundation as a scholarship ambassador and as the lead champion of the annual NALP Foundation Scholarship Reception, held in conjunction with the NALP National Collegiate Landscape Competition.
He stressed the importance of giving to and supporting students to attract the next generation of landscape industry leaders. After Kehoe’s passing in 2022, the NALP Foundation created the Kevin Kehoe Student Leader of the Year Award. This award recognizes a student who has demonstrated strong leadership, has a passion for helping others and is an outstanding example to other students preparing for their careers in the industry.
Ian Holcomb, a senior at Michigan State University majoring in horticulture, was selected as the first recipient of this award and also received a scholarship funded by Kehoe’s family, friends and industry associates.
NALP chatted with Holcomb at NCLC to learn a little more about him.
How did you become interested in majoring in something related to the landscape industry?
I always grew up with my grandmother’s really beautiful garden. When COVID happened, I just started getting really big into plants. I think the connection that humans have to green spaces and nature is really important. I think it can affect your health positively and your mental health.
How do these scholarships help you?
They help me immensely. 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.
What do you plan to do after you graduate?
Right now, I just accepted an internship with Davey Tree, so I’m planning on doing that this summer. Then I’ll see how that is. I also like public gardening, so I might do that too. There are a lot of different aspects that I’d be happy with.
What does it mean to be named the Kevin Kehoe Student Leader of the Year?
It’s incredible. I don’t think of myself as a leader all the time. When I started going to Michigan State, I feel like I really branched out and got out of my shell. When I became president of the (student horticulture) association, it wasn’t something that I thought I was going to do, but it makes me feel great.
This article was published in the May/June issue of the magazine. To read more stories from The Edge magazine, click here to subscribe to the digital edition.