ONLA to host high school olympics

September 11, 2017 -  By

The Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association (ONLA) will welcome 200 students on Nov. 2 and 3 for its second annual Ohio High School Landscape Olympics, a competition at The Ohio State University Agriculture Technical Institute (OSU ATI) in Wooster, Ohio.

Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association

Students competing in the 2016 Ohio High School Landscape Olympics.

Educators and students from 20 schools and career centers across the state will travel to this year’s event. Additionally, more than a dozen green industry companies and associates already have signed on as sponsors to support the event, lead competitions and potentially meet their future workforce.

“We were immediately on board,” said Gail Reinhart, human resources manager at Hidden Creek Landscaping in Hilliard, Ohio. “The Olympics gives us the opportunity to engage directly with students and provide insight on the many career choices that exist not only within our company but throughout the green industry. It’s a true grassroots effort to recruit the next generation.”

Reinhart’s company will lead the sales presentation competition at the event. Other competitions test and build students’ skills in plant identification, compact excavator and skid-steer operation, plant and hardscape installation, landscape maintenance, irrigation, truck and trailer maneuverability and cost estimating.

The event also will include a kick-off party with pizza and inflatable games to build excitement and camaraderie, a speed-networking event to encourage exploration of the many career choices available in the industry and a fun zone to provide activities for students who aren’t competing.

“The Olympics allows my students to compete in and spectate a wide variety of real world, green industry challenges,” said Roy Dria, an instructor from Jackson High School in Massillon, Ohio. “Not only do competing students get a great sense of pride showing off their skill, the event sparks the interest of future students and inspires them to work harder.”

Dria brought 34 students to the 2016 Olympics. One was a senior with his mind set on attending the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy upon graduation. Dria noted that his former student is now enrolled in horticulture classes at OSU ATI, all because of the interactions he had and encouragement he received during the competition.

“All of my students really enjoyed the event, but it made an obvious long-term, life-altering change for one,” Dria said.

Photo: ONLA

LM Staff

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