College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

PLANET Student Career Days

Author: 
Ken Ingram
Students walked through the Garden of The Gods, a huge marble rock creation.

Five IAA students teamed with 11 PLSC students to compete in the PLANET Student Career Days, March 20-23, at Colorado State University. PLANET, an acronym for Professional Landscape Network, is a national trade association representing over 100,000 landscape industry professionals. The Student Career Days are an annual, three-day competitive event between university landscape and horticulture students who compete in a wide range of events directly related to the skills necessary to careers in the landscape industry. This year 65 teams and a total of 743 student competed. The event also includes a networking event with potential employers.

Always timed for spring break, the UMD team partnered with Penn State for three days of garden tours and fun before the competition began. The tour included a visit to the Garden of the Gods, the historic Broadmoor Hotel, and a day of skiing at Breckenridge Resort. “It was a busy week” according to IAA student Brian Knott, who along with everyone commented on some pretty harrowing bus rides in heavy snow near steep cliffs.

Students had studied and prepared for the event for several weeks. Dr. Steve Cohan has organized the event for years and Dr. Kevin Mathias helped prepare students for the turf and irrigation events. The follow table shows IAA students and the competitions in which they participated:

Colin Plumley

Arboriculture Techniques, Small Engine Repair, Truck & Trailer Operation

Brian Hogan

Irrigation Troubleshooting, Maintenance Cost Estimating, Plant Problems Diagnosis

Brian Knott

Irrigation Troubleshooting, Irrigation Assembly, Tractor/Loader/Backhoe Operation

Mark Reddinger

Arboriculture Techniques, Hardscape Installation, Landscape Mgmt. Operations

Brent Waite

Plant Problems Diagnosis, Turf & Weed Identification

Colorado’s weather is notoriously changeable and this year was no exception. Some days were bright and sunny followed by days of heavy snow. Brian Hogan said “it was snowing so hard during the Irrigation Troubleshooting event that your tools were quickly covered in snow if you laid them down.”

After IAA teams had won the STMA Student Challenge and the GCSAA Turf Bowl this year it was time for a reality check. UMD placed 16th out of 65 teams. Individually, Brent Waite finished 2nd in Plant Problems Diagnosis and 10th in Turf and Weed Identification. Next year’s event will be closer to home at NC State University.

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