The MSU Student Horticulture Association landscape team placed first at the National Association of Landscape Professionals National Collegiate Landscape Competition March 16-19 at Mississippi State University.
“The competition is a tremendous learning experience that pushes me beyond the academic requirements of the classroom and requires me to dig deeper and explore information and learning outcomes in areas that I otherwise may never have developed,” senior Ben Harcey said. “The competition also provides the platform for MSU to consistently represent the school and the horticulture program as one of the finest in the country.”
The four-day event consisted of educational workshops, a career fair and 28 competitive events dubbed the Landscape Olympics. The MSU team members were among 683 students representing 63 colleges and universities from across the United States and Canada.
This year marks the 19th consecutive year that MSU has had a team in the competition. The MSU team is made up of students from the Department of Horticulture and the Institute of Agricultural Technology Landscape and Nursery Management Program.
“Our students do really well at this competition because they come from a solid curriculum that emphasizes science and hands-on learning,” said Brad Rowe, professor in the Department of Horticulture and coach of the team.
Being a member of this team is no small time investment, said Marcus Duck, academic specialist and IAT program coordinator in the Department of Horticulture. He also coaches the team.
“When a student accepts the responsibility of being a part of our team, it is equivalent to adding on about a credit or two of coursework, so our students take this work very seriously,” Duck said. “They put in the many hours necessary to study and practice to prepare for their events.”
Top scorers for MSU were Ben Harcey with 437.5 points overall; Aaron Bosgraaf, 266.75 points overall; Preston Zoellner, 256 points overall; and Austin Sale, 251 points overall.
Among the 683 students competing, Harcey placed second in total points scored by an individual.