What to Know About the 2021 National Collegiate Landscape Competition - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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What to Know About the 2021 National Collegiate Landscape Competition

Registration for the National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC) is now open. This year’s event will take place virtually from March 15 – 19, 2021.

“Though we are not in-person, we still have a very robust event that will incorporate a lot of the elements that make the in-person event so fantastic,” says Jenn Myers, senior director of workforce development for NALP.

This year’s event includes over 15 student workshops, a career fair and individual challenges. NCLC, the student workshops and individual challenges are sponsored by a number of partners, including STIHL, John Deere, Caterpillar, Gravely, Hunter, Husqvarna and many more. 

Unlike the in-person event, students do not have to pick and choose which workshops to attend as these are available on-demand so students can attend them on their own schedule. The workshops can be accessed during the event week or any time after NCLC for up to a year.

Myers says the career fair provides students a chance to interview for jobs or internships and to network with others. Attendees have the ability to chat and participate in polls at booths and video conferencing is available as well. The platform allows attendees to schedule one-on-one interviews in advance as students and employers will have access to the platform prior to the event, but interviews can also be scheduled during the week.

“We worked really hard to create an event that everybody attending could fit into their schedule because we know their regular schedule is still happening that week,” Myers says. “From a candidate perspective, you have a lot of different ways to learn about the organizations that will be there. And those companies exhibiting at the career fair have a lot of different methods to reach the students that are out there.”

Companies that register for a career fair booth receive six registrations for their team and they can purchase more if they like. Myers says there’s a lot of flexibility as businesses can set their own availability for the week. Booth spaces are $375 per company for NALP members, $700 for non-members, and are first-come, first-served.

Myers encourages companies with booths to have different forms of engagement for students whether it’s links to social media pages or videos highlighting what your company does. She says it’s important to let students know if you’re hiring and what you’re hiring for.

“I think while the focus is on the students for this event, it’s also a time for anybody attending to network and to catch up,” Myers says.

The event is free for both students and faculty.

“One benefit of having this online event is that the schools aren’t limited to the number of students that they can afford to take based on their budgets and their financial situation,” Myers says. “Every student from every program has the opportunity to attend this event.”

Unlike last year’s NCLC, which had to pivot to an online version under short notice, this year’s event will include a number of the competitive events that students, faculty and industry members love so much.

NALP is able to offer 21 of the 30 competitive events, known as challenges this year. They are all individual challenges this year and 14 of the 21 challenges any student can participate in.

“For the students, I think it’s an opportunity to perhaps participate in a challenge that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to participate in before,” Myers says.

All the challenges are individually scored, and they do not roll up to a team score. Scores will still be shared so students can see how they performed compared to other students and other schools.

“I think moving forward for your career as a student being able to check your knowledge against all these different areas, up to 21 different areas of our industry, is an awesome thing to do,” Myers says.

Four to six challenges will be available Monday through Thursday and they will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST. Students must choose a 1-hour or 2-hour block to complete the challenge. All challenges are on the honor system.

Some of the challenges such as arboriculture techniques, small engine repair and compact excavator operation will use the qualifier test that is used to narrow down the participants for the in-person event as the challenge this year.

While a favorite part of the traditional NCLC event is the Best Cheer competition, NALP is still celebrating school spirit with the Team Spirit Photo Contest where students are encouraged to gather in-person or virtually wearing school colors and take a picture. The winning school will receive a $1,000 check from John Deere.

The NALP Foundation Outstanding Educator of the Year for 2021 and NALP Foundation scholarship winners will also be announced during this event.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.