MSU team, individuals win big in national landscape competition
Author: Vanessa Beeson
Mississippi State landscape contracting and management students in the Department of Landscape Architecture claimed first place overall at the recent National Collegiate Landscape Competition.
Several MSU students also received individual accolades. The National Association of Landscape Professionals, or NALP, organized the virtual event—which included a comprehensive career fair, multiple competitive challenges and student workshops. Approximately 600 students and 100 faculty members across 40 schools and nearly 350 industry professionals across nearly 80 companies participated.
MSU Professor Timothy Schauwecker, coordinator of the landscape contracting and management degree program, said while the event's format was different this year, it provided a valuable learning experience for students striving to become landscape professionals.
"The career fair, in particular, is one of the most important aspects of the event for our students because it leads to internship and permanent employment opportunities and provides a lot of networking opportunities. Seeing what companies in different parts of the country are doing and the career opportunities they offer is usually eye-opening for students, and I don't think that changed much in the online environment this year," Schauwecker said.
This year's winning teams, split across three size categories, were determined based on student participation in virtual workshops, company interviews and visits to company websites. MSU won among schools with 25 or more participants while Auburn won the medium size category and North Dakota State University won in the small category. Schauwecker said the MSU team stepped up to the plate when it came to participation.
"We invited everyone in the department to participate, which meant that some students who might not ordinarily take part were able to join in since no travel was involved. Thirty-five of our students registered and participated," he said. "I'm most proud of the fact that many students chose to follow through with tasks to earn the team points. I think that they appreciated that this event is important to our program, and they responded by fully participating."
Schauwecker noted that MSU's team members also performed well individually.
"Hardscape Installation was an MSU sweep of the top three scores in the event, which was fantastic, but we also did well in some of the other events that are strengths of our program, such as sales presentation, landscape maintenance operations, cost estimating and landscape design," he said.
Jennifer Myers, senior director of workforce development for NALP, said the event is one of few national competitions for landscape contracting and management, horticulture and landscape architecture students, and MSU has been involved in the program from the beginning.
"MSU has always been a big part of this event. In fact, the university was a catalyst for the competition's inception and hosted the first one 45 years ago. Since then, Mississippi State has hosted multiple times and always brings a large team with a great showing," she said.
Top individual awardees from the university include, by category:
Hardscape Installation—Brandon Collins of Madison, a junior landscape contracting and management major, first place; Robert Cox of Brandon, a junior landscape contracting and management major, second place; and Zachary Harmon of West Point, a senior landscape contracting and management major, third place.
Maintenance Cost Estimating—Anna Guynes of Atlanta, Georgia, a senior landscape architecture and landscape contracting and management double major, second place; and Matt Stowers of Brandon, a senior landscape and contracting major, third place.
Landscape Maintenance Operations—Tai Beem of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a junior landscape contracting and management major, fourth place.
Exterior Landscape Design—Andrew Nelson of Russellville, Alabama, a senior landscape architecture and landscape contracting and management double major, fifth place.
Sales Presentation—Patrick Byrne of Houston, Texas, a senior landscape contracting and management major, fifth place.
For more information on the landscape contracting and management program and the Department of Landscape Architecture in MSU's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, visit www.lalc.msstate.edu.