A Cal Poly Pomona team took third place in the PLANET Student Career Days National Collegiate Landscape Competition.
More than 850 students from 65 colleges and universities competed March 12-15 in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the event, which is often characterized as the “Olympics” of landscaping.
This was Professor Ryan Nichols’s second time advising the team, and he says that although Cal Poly Pomona has been competing since the early ’90s, this was the first top-three finish in at least 15 years.
“I think preparation was one of the key factors of why we did so well this year,” he says. “We took more students this year than we have in the past, so the workload was more distributed among them, and we had more support. It was just great.”
Cal Poly Pomona finished third behind Brigham Young University in Idaho and Michigan State University, but ahead of many other universities, including Brigham Young in Utah, Georgia, Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Auburn.
In addition, Cal Poly Pomona students finished in the top three in five categories during the competition. They were:
- Whitney Redfield, first place, 3D Exterior Landscape Design
- Ivan Velazquez, first place, Interior Landscape Design
- Raul Martinez, second place, Turf & Weed Identification
- Tyler Harvey, third place, Irrigation Design
- Luellen Swayzer, third place, Plant Problem Diagnosis.
Other team members included Ernesto Altamirano, Ryan Anderson, Oscar Del Real, Felix Jaimes, Ryusuke Kanagawa, Joshua Klockman, Adam Mason, Juan Prieto, Bret Timmons and Austin Zendejas.
Redfield, a third-year graduate landscape architecture student, says the event gives students a chance to network and discover opportunities.
“I feel as if too often students focus so hard on their own major that they forget there are other students interested in the same things, just focusing on them in different ways, under different subjects,” he says. “Opportunities like PLANET Student Career Days provide the chance to meet like-minded students that just happen to be studying in a different field.”
The competition is organized by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), the national trade association representing landscape professionals. The event includes a career fair and is a major recruiting event for companies in the $73-billion landscape industry.
This was Redfield’s second year competing, and it’s an experience he would recommend to other students.
“The connections I’ve made through networking are invaluable. The job I have now was influenced by my success at this National Collegiate Landscape Competition,” he says. “My favorite part about the competition is the time spent with the team. The stress and excitement leading up to the event and the joy and exhilaration of success.”
Student Assistant Carly Owens contributed to this report.