MSU Horticulture team places third in career competition

A group of students represented Michigan State University (MSU) at PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) Student Career Days, held at Auburn University in Alabama last month.

A group of students represented Michigan State University (MSU) at PLANET (Professional Landcare Network) Student Career Days, held at Auburn University in Alabama last month.

The four-day National Collegiate Landscape Competition consisted of educational workshops, 28 competitive events and a career fair.  MSU team members were among 854 students representing 63 colleges and universities from across the United States and Canada competing. 

The MSU team finished in third place overall. 

The team was composed of students from the departments of Horticulture, Entomology, Environmental Biology/Zoology and Statistics, and the Institute of Agricultural Technology Landscape and Nursery Management and Landscape and Lawn Management programs.

Top 10 performances in individual events were:

·         Jeff Elshoff, a junior majoring in horticulture from Morrice, Mich., earned first place in irrigation design.

·         Elshoff and David Erdman, a senior horticulture major from Cadillac, Mich., took first place in irrigation troubleshooting.

·         Elshoff and Erdman tied for first in irrigation assembly.

·         Elshoff and Jamey Martinez, a senior horticulture major from East Lansing, earned first place in landscape maintenance operations.

·         Martinez earned first place in skidsteer operation.

·         Katie Nickolaus, a junior horticulture major from Addison, Mich., tied for first (with a perfect score of 100) in maintenance cost estimating.

·         Chris McKellar, a junior horticulture major from Interlochen, Mich., placed second in annual and perennial identification.

·         Robert Zannini, a senior horticulture major from Parma, Mich., tied for second in business management.

·         Kyle Redilla, a senior statistics major from South Lyon, Mich., and Zach VanDyke, a sophomore horticulture major from Fremont, Mich., placed third in wood construction.

·         Lauren Tuski, a senior majoring in professional writing and horticulture from Hadley, Mich., placed fourth in leadership skills.

·         Elise Carolan, a senior horticulture major from Traverse City, Mich., placed fourth in turf and weed identification.

·         Redilla earned fourth in plant problem diagnosis. 

·         Kate McDonald, a freshman majoring in landscape and nursery management from Saginaw, Mich., and Tuski earned fifth place in personnel management.

·         Martinez placed eighth in maintenance cost estimating.

·         Zachary Robinson, a junior horticulture major from Oxford, Mich., placed eighth in interior landscape design.

·         McKellar earned ninth in woody plant identification.

·         Robinson placed tenth in exterior landscape design.

Top scorers for MSU were:

·         Elshoff, with 443 points.

·         Martinez, 428 points.

·         Erdman, 275 points.

·         Tuski, 252 points.

·         VanDyke, 236 points.

Among the 854 students competing, Elshoff and Martinez placed third and fifth, respectively, for the most points scored by an individual. Carolan, Elshoff, Nickolaus and Tuski were awarded scholarships worth $1,000 from the PLANET Education Foundation. 

For winning the irrigation design competition, Elshoff was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Scottsdale, Ariz., to attend the American Society of Irrigation Consultants National Conference in April.

In addition, for winning the other two irrigation events, Elshoff and Erdman won trips next fall to Austin, Texas for the Irrigation Association’s Irrigation Show and Educational Conference and to Las Vegas, Nev., for the EPA WaterSense Partner Program.

Team members worked diligently all year raising money to finance the trip through Horticulture Club activities. Special thanks go to sponsors such as Ewing Irrigation Products, Bartlett Tree Experts and the Michigan Green Industry Association.

Next year’s competition will be hosted by Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

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