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Taking second, students impress national judges

Seventeen BYU-Idaho students and three faculty members from the horticulture department participated in the National Collegiate Landscape Competition, held at Mississippi State University March 15 to 18.

“The National Collegiate Landscape Competition is an annual three-day competition and networking event for students enrolled in interior and exterior horticulture programs at two- and four-year colleges and universities from across the country,” according to the national Association of Landscape Professionals website.

BYU-I took second place in the competition with 3,979.65 points, according to the NALP website. Michigan State University took first with 4,337.80 points.

Jeanette Myer, a junior studying horticulture, said she participated in three events at the competition: annual and perennial identification, sales presentation and employee development.

“Out of those last two, I took first; one with a partner and one by myself,” Myer said.

Myer said in the fall semester, the teachers going to the competition pick the teams, and then the students are supposed to practice over winter break and throughout winter semester until the competition in March.

“So we all practice ours, and then we go there, there’s an opening ceremonies, and there’s briefings and then we actually compete in the events,” Myer said. “A lot of us (…) got a few days before the presentation, enough to put some stuff together, but you don’t know everything until you’re in it and you have certain amount of time.”

Myer said because of this competition, she has already had companies contacting her, offering her full-time jobs or internships.

“When we went there, we got to meet the heads of John Deere, Gravely and all these major companies in the industry, and they’ve met us personally,” Myer said. “After I did one of my events, I even had a judge chase me down and say, ‘Is this your real phone number?’ And I said, ‘That’s my real phone number,’ and he said, ‘We’ll be contacting you.’”

Myer said even though she is not going to jump into the career field right now, this competition is great for others.

“This is how they move on after graduation,” Myer said. “The judges are people from the industry, so it’s just a great way of network and to prove yourself to them so they know who you are.”

Warren Gorowitz, Vice President of Sustainability from Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply, said the top students come from BYU-I.

“The professionalism and the amount of preparation they have for the events and working with the faculty and staff is top notch,” Gorowitz said.

Myer said taking second place at this competition helps get the name of BYU-I out in the professional world.

“More people are aware of who we are,” Myer said. “I know there’s some people who don’t even know that BYU-Idaho is a separate school; they just think maybe it’s an off-shoot or something like that. And we’ve been proving over and over again that we are competitive and that we know our stuff, but we also make sure we just keep the reputation for the school up.

Myer said the students who go to the competitions keep the school’s reputation up by dressing appropriately, watching their language and helping others.

“We’re all just trying to, not necessarily be missionaries, but just to show that we have higher standards and that we keep those wherever we are,” Myer said. “Then employers can also expect that from us, so it is just a really great way to get out there and for people to know us.”

Myer said businesses in the horticulture industry know who BYU-I is.

“We’ve just done so well for the last 10, 15 years; we’re always in the top three,” Myer said. “It’s a pretty amazing feeling. I didn’t know that going into this major that our school was so good at horticulture, but we really are.”

Myer said students who are interested in going to the competition next year need to talk to their teachers, as they are already preparing for next year’s competition.

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