Campus to Host National Landscape and Lawn Care Competition

Campus to Host National Landscape and Lawn Care Competition
Students will pit their green skills against one another in 26 different turf and landscape events.
One of the challenges requires students to install a landscape in two hours according to plans and specifications.

Move over robotics, engineering and mock trial competitions. The nation's top horticulture college students are coming to Cal Poly Pomona March 26-29 for the annual Student Career Days competition.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, the College of Agriculture will host the three-day competition for 770 students from around the country. Students will pit their green skills against one another in 26 different turf and landscape events, including tree climbing, wood construction, irrigation assembly, skid steer operation and plant identification. In its 33rd year, the competition is organized by the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), a lawn and landscape association.

Cal Poly Pomona, which has participated for the past 21 years, has almost always finished in the top 10 and often places in the top five. This year, the university will enter 23 students.

“This is a transformative event. Students often tell me that this competition is the best thing they did at Cal Poly Pomona,” says Plant Sciences Professor Frederick Roth, who is coordinating the competition. “What makes Student Career Days unique is that each of the contests is designed and run by companies in the industry. Under the confines of a simulated event, the contests are as true to life as you can get.”

The contests will be spread out throughout campus, from the Bronco Student Center to AGRIscapes to the athletics fields. The opening and closing ceremonies, as well as some of the social events, will be held at Fairplex in Pomona.

The campus community and public are invited to watch the events, especially the hands-on contests such as wood construction and landscape plant installation. In the wood construction event, a two-person team builds a wooden structure, like a bench or a plant rack, in less than two hours. In the landscape plant installation event, three students put in a variety of materials, such as sod, mulch and plants, according to plans and specifications.

Student Career Days also hosts one of the largest career fairs for students interested in the landscape, lawn care and interior plantscaping industries. Recruiters from more than 30 companies will interview students for full-time positions and internships, and many receive job offers on the spot.

Last year, 67 schools and 961 students participated in the events. The top placing schools included North Metro Technical College, Brigham Young University, Cal Poly Pomona, Penn State, North Carolina State, Mississippi State and Michigan State.

For more information about PLANET Student Career Days, visit A detailed schedule of events is available at