Monday, March 26, 2018

Cuyamaca College Ornamental Horticulture students blossom at national competition

The Cuyamaca College Ornamental Horticulture program is turning heads after yet another standout performance at the National Collegiate Landscape Competition.

Cuyamaca College OH students and instrcutor Donald Schultz (top right)
 Nine students took part in the 42nd annual event, and their average score topped the average scores for students at any of the 62 colleges and universities taking part in the competition at Alamance Community College in North Carolina. Competing against major institutions such as Brigham Young University, Virginia Tech and the University of Georgia, Cuyamaca College was the only school with three students finishing among the top 25 in total points.
Cuyamaca placed fifth overall nationally among the community colleges taking part in the competition. It finished ahead of numerous large universities, including Iowa State, Auburn, and Illinois State.

 The National Collegiate Landscape Competition, sponsored by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, is the largest national competition and career recruitment event for college students studying horticulture and landscaping. Students demonstrate their skills in everything from irrigation troubleshooting to sales presentations and patio building.

 “A showing like this really illustrates the excellence of our program and the quality of our students,” said Donald Schultz, Ornamental Horticulture program coordinator. “But it also represents the strength of our strong workforce and career education programs, and it puts us on the industry’s radar nationally.”

 Cuyamaca College has long been on the industry’s radar in the region. Ornamental Horticulture was one of three career education programs at Cuyamaca College honored by the California Community Colleges system with a Strong Workforce Star for providing students with the skills to find jobs, increase their earning power and boost their social mobility. The Chancellor’s Office lauded the program for its strong relationships with local industry, and graduates of the program are working in positions ranging from grounds maintenance supervisors to landscape designers and irrigation consultants.

 “The Ornamental Horticulture program really prepares students to work in the industry,” said Tyler Shannon, a student focusing on golf course and sports turf management. “The teachers are great, the coursework is wonderful and the hands-on experience is phenomenal.”

 Shannon took part in the Irrigation Assembly, Irrigation Troubleshooting, Skid-Steer Loader Operation, Maintenance Cost Estimating and Compact Excavator Operation competitions, racking up enough points to finish 17th overall among the 710 students taking part. Cuyamaca College student Kaity Bevenour finished 10th nationally, and Alexandra Trofimov finished 25th.

 “Our program gets you ready to go up and do well against some pretty big universities around the country,” Shannon said.

 This is just the second year Cuyamaca College competed in the national event; at its inaugural entry in 2017, five Cuyamaca students – including Shannon, Bevenour and Trofimov – finished among the Top 10 in their respective competitions.