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K-State Today

March 19, 2012

K-State to host PLANET Student Career Days during spring break

By Cathie Lavis

If you notice a lot of hustle and bustle on the K-State campus during spring break, there is an exciting reason.

Kansas State University is hosting the 36th annual Professional Landcare Network, or PLANET, Student Career Days, Thursday through Sunday. This is an annual competition and networking event for horticulture students enrolled at two- and four-year colleges and universities.

Each year, a different school hosts PLANET; this gives the participants a chance to see different parts of the country and increases the level of difficulty for some of the outdoor competitions. It is K-State’s honor to host this incredible event this spring break.

PLANET is an international association of more than 100,000 green industry workers. It serves lawn care professionals, landscape management, design/build/installation professionals, and irrigation and water management and interior plantscapers.

PLANET Student Career Days would not be possible without the support and sponsorship from numerous industry leaders such as Stihl Inc., John Deere, Caterpillar, Husqvarna, Hunter and Ewing Irrigation and many others.

K-State’s department of horticulture, forestry and recreation resources will welcome approximately 800 college students from 60 schools, their faculty and the green industry for this horticultural event that also features the world’s largest green industry career fair. The national top two high school FFA teams will also be represented, including Washington County (Kan.) High School. The event brings together green industry leaders and professionals with top horticulture students.

Student Career Days provides green industry companies with opportunities to meet and recruit next-generation green industry superstars.  It includes the largest career fair in the green industry, which will be in the K-State Union Ballroom. 

At the event students compete in 28 individual and team competitions, including leadership skills, arboricultural techniques (tree climbing), paver/hardscape installation, wood construction, plant identification, sales presentation, exterior/interior design, irrigation troubleshooting, landscape construction and maintenance estimating, skid steer, personnel management, and small engine repair – just to name a few.

The focus of activities Thursday and Friday will be on the south side of campus in and around the K-State Union; Kedzie, Thompson, Durland-Rathbone halls; and the trees and lawn space to the east of the president’s home. The D-1 parking lot to the west of Ahearn Field House will be used for several outdoor workshops on Thursday as well as bus, van and volunteer parking.

Saturday’s outdoor competitive events as well as numerous indoor events will shift to the north end of campus in and around the Rec Complex playing field, East Stadium parking lot, areas of the agronomy farm, Throckmorton Hall and the International Grains Program facility.

This event is possible only with the support of many K-Staters as well as approximately 200 volunteers, many of whom are local and regional turf and landscape professionals helping to make this year’s event successful. Volunteers will help in a variety of capacities, from directing students to their various events to helping set up such competitive events such as landscape installation, hardscape construction and five plant identification contests.

To learn more about PLANET go to http://www.hfrr.ksu.edu/p.aspx?tabid=1021. There is a short video from last year’s event at Joliet Community College that gives a visual idea about PLANET Student Career Days.

Please feel free to contact the faculty hosts Greg Davis, 785-532-1417, gdavis@k-state.edu, or Cathie Lavis, 785-532-1433, clavis@k-state.edu, for more information.