PIQUA — They powered through the mud, rain, and cold at Ohio State ATI in Wooster, Ohio to take the second place overall team award at the third annual Ohio High School Landscape Olympics.
A group of eight juniors and three seniors in the landscape management program, along with instructor John Kreitzer and recent graduate and volunteer, Zac Gordon, represented Upper Valley Career Center. This two-day event brought 20 schools and close to 250 competitors together to test their skills in a number of landscape-specific competitions.
The competition is sponsored by the Ohio Nursery and Landscaping Association (ONLA) to highlight the hands-on skills of their trade and assist in recruiting employees into this very in-demand field. “Employers from across Ohio are looking to hand-pick potential employees from this competition, so this is a great opportunity for our kids on many levels,” said Kreitzer.
Competitors from the Career Center were: Eli Baker, Piqua (1st place – truck & trailer operation, 3rd place – mini-excavator operation, 8th place individual in the state); Mason Price, Piqua (1st place – truck & trailer); Braeden Snider, Troy (1st place – sales presentation); Isaiah Shepherd, Piqua (3rd place – low voltage landscape lighting installation); Samantha Moses, Sidney; Ferrara Hammer, Sidney; Luke Yerkey, Sidney; Jairon Douglas, Houston; Rocky Young, Piqua; Shane Smith, Troy; and Matt Herron, Piqua
On top of the individual awards, Upper Valley Career Center took second place overall as a team. For their success, their program was awarded $1,000 from the ONLA and their sponsors. They hope to apply this money towards future competitions, and are even considering the possibility of participating in the National Collegiate Landscape Competition in March.
“I have great expectations for these kids. They work very hard and are so eager to learn all that they can. I almost have to slow them down so they don’t get ahead of themselves. That’s pretty cool,” said Kreitzer.
Kreitzer is in his seventh year as an instructor at the Upper Valley Career Center. He is a graduate of Ohio State ATI in Wooster and The Ohio State University, Columbus with degrees in Horticulture Sciences and Landscape Horticulture. Prior to coming to the Career Center, he owned a landscape business in the Lima area. He brings expert plant knowledge and care in addition to industry know-how that students need to be successful in their future.
For more information on the Landscape Management program or the Upper Valley Career Center, visit www.UpperValleyCC.org.