National Champions: MSU Places First in NALP National Collegiate Landscape Competition

A team from Michigan State University (MSU) is the champion of the 2016 National Collegiate Landscape Competition.

March 29, 2016

MSU National Collegiate Landscape Competition Team

A team from Michigan State University (MSU) is the champion of the 2016 National Collegiate Landscape Competition.


The MSU Student Horticulture Association landscape team competed at the NALP (National Association of Landscape Professionals) National Collegiate Landscape Competition March 16-19 at Mississippi State University. After five years of top four finishes, 2016 marks the first top finish for the team.


“The competition is a tremendous learning experience that pushes me beyond the academic requirements of the classroom and requires me to dig deeper and explore information and learning outcomes in areas that I otherwise may never have developed,” said Ben Harcy, a senior from Traverse City, Michigan. “The competition also provides the platform for MSU to consistently represent the school and the horticulture program as one of the finest in the country.”


''The four-day event consisted of educational workshops, a career fair and 28 competitive events dubbed the Landscape Olympics. The MSU team members were among 683 students representing 63 colleges and universities from across the United States and Canada.  ? ?


This year marks the 19th consecutive year that MSU has had a team in the competition. The MSU team is made up of students from the Department of Horticulture and the Institute of Agricultural Technology (IAT) Landscape and Nursery Management Program. 


“Our students do really well at this competition because they come from a solid curriculum that emphasizes science and hands-on learning,” said Brad Rowe, professor in the Department of Horticulture and coach of the team.


Being a member of this team is no small time investment, said Marcus Duck, academic specialist and IAT program coordinator in the Department of Horticulture. He also coaches the team.


“When a student accepts the responsibility of being a part of our team, it is equivalent to adding on about a credit or two of coursework, so our students take this work very seriously,” Duck said. “They put in the many hours necessary to study and practice to prepare for their events.”


Harcey agreed.


“In many learning situations, part of the learning process is the textbook portion, and the other part is the hands-on portion,” he said. “The competition provides the tangible testing grounds where the rubber hits the road. It provides the opportunity to learn from mistakes and discover alternative and better approaches for problem solving. It also provides a great stage to showcase skill sets and demonstrate the culmination of years of hard work.”


Duck said there are good careers for students like Harcey and his teammates.


“There’s a real lack of qualified, educated horticulturists,” Duck said. “This isn’t just an issue in Michigan -- it’s a trend all across the country. By doing well in this competition, we are able to draw much needed attention to the horticulture profession and to the quality of MSU’s program.”


MSU team members are:

Josh Beasley, Kyle Bindseil, Aaron Bosgraaf, Beth Copeland, Lindsay Daschner, Georgina DeMoya, Nick Fortuna, Tyler Gilson, Ben Harcey, Jacqueline Kirouac, Abby Makowski, Connor McKernin, Josh Nieuwsma, Lee Rainey, Wesley Raker, Neil Rion, Austin Sale, Lauren Sieloff, Morgan Temple, Keren Terry, Corinne Tucker, Aaron Weaver and Preston Zoellner.


In addition to the team’s coaches, Duck and Rowe, associate professors Bob Schutzki and Tom Fernandez assist with the team.? ?


Other competition results:

MSU students placed in the Top 10 in the following events:??

  1. Jackie Kirouac, Business Management (first).?
  2. Team of Ben Harcey and Preston Zoellner, Irrigation Troubleshooting (first).?
  3. Team of Ben Harcey and Lee Rainey, Landscape Maintenance Operations (first).?
  4. Lindsay Daschner, Turf and Weed Identification (first).?
  5. Team of Ben Harcey, Austin Sale and Aaron Weaver, Landscape Plant Installation (first).?
  6. Preston Zoellner, Irrigation Design (second).?
  7. Aaron Bosgraaf, Maintenance Cost Estimating (second).?
  8. Josh Beasley, Small Engine Repair (second).?
  9. Lindsay Daschner, Maintenance Cost Estimating (third).?
  10. Jackie Kirouac, Plant Problem Diagnosis (third).?
  11. Team of Josh Beasley and Aaron Bosgraaf, Truck and Trailer Operation (third).?
  12. Lauren Sieloff, Turf and Weed Identification (third).?
  13. Kyle Bindseil, Woody Plant Identification (third).?
  14. Kyle Bindseil, Business Management (fourth).?
  15. Team of Aaron Bosgraaf and Ben Harcey, Hardscape Installation (fourth).?
  16. Connor McKernin, Sales Presentation (fourth).?
  17. Team of Josh Nieuwsma and Lee Rainey, Wood Construction (sixth).?
  18. Connor McKernin, Woody Plant Identification (sixth).?
  19. Keren Terry, Annual and Perennial Plant Identification (seventh).?
  20. Team of Aaron Weaver and Preston Zoellner, Irrigation Assembly (seventh).?
  21. Georgina DeMoya, Interior Plant Identification (seventh).?
  22. Tyler Gilson, 3D Exterior Landscape Design (ninth).?
  23. Team of Wesley Raker and Neal Rion, Employee Development (ninth). ?
  24. Morgan Temple, Computer-aided Design (10th).?
  25. Morgan Temple, Interior Landscape Design (10th).?
  26. Corinne Tucker, Interior Plant Identification (10th).?
  27. Neil Rion, Plant Problem Diagnosis (10th).??


Top scorers for MSU were Ben Harcey with 437.5 points overall; Aaron Bosgraaf, 266.75 points overall; Preston Zoellner, 256 points overall; and Austin Sale, 251 points overall. 


Among the 683 students competing, Harcey placed second in total points scored by an individual.


Bosgraaf, Daschner, Harcey and Leonard were awarded scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 from the NALP Academic Excellence Foundation. In addition, the team received a $5,000 check courtesy of Stihl, Inc., for winning the event. ? ?


The student team finances the trip with activities such as the Spring Plant Sale (April 23- 24) and with sponsorships from businesses all over Michigan and the United States.

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