AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn University will host the "landscape Olympics" Thursday through Sunday with teams from 60 colleges competing for honors, scholarships and jobs.
Auburn's team of 40 students will cheer each other on in 28 events like 3-D landscape design, irrigation techniques, hardscape installation, plant identification, and business management. They face tough competition with last year's top placers including Michigan State and Brigham Young University.
The competitors will be hoping for one of 68 scholarships that will be awarded. Recruiters from 50 companies, including Caterpillar and Husqvarna will be scouting the nation's top prospects during the event.
"There is incredible competition among the bigger companies to hire the high-potential college graduates from the landscape and horticulture programs," said Kory Beidler, technical training manager from the Brickman Group, a leading commercial turf maintenance company. "I would be surprised if there were any college students in landscaping and horticulture who couldn't find a job in our industry after they graduate."
Joe Eakes, head of the Auburn University Department of Horticulture, organized the event and said, "Since 1985, every graduating student from Auburn's Department of Horticulture program has had at least one job offer in their field." He explained that there are varying paths a graduate can take in using their education, including production and commercial applications.
The National Collegiate Landscape Competition and Student Career Days is an annual event sponsored by John Deere, Stihl, Caterpillar and other major companies.