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Horticulture students compete nationally; scholarships awarded

Nine Pennsylvania College of Technology horticulture students recently journeyed to North Carolina State University for the 46th annual National Collegiate Landscape Competition.

A number of them turned in noteworthy performances in their respective categories, and the team finished 19th among 43 schools. Brigham Young University-Provo was the overall winner.

As part of the three-day event, five Penn College students (two of whom were in attendance) shared scholarships totaling $6,500 from the National Association of Landscape Professionals Foundation.

Pennsylvania College of Technology students and their mentors are photographed at The JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, N.C., while attending the recent National Collegiate Landscape Competition at nearby North Carolina State University. Back row (from left): Nicholas E. Yule, of Berwick; Ian A. Folsom, of Williamsport; and Brandon C. Wolfe, of Albion. Front row (from left): Seth J. Bradley, of Pottstown; faculty member Carl J. Bower Jr.; Faith E. Mitchell, of Sunbury; Grace E. Maneval, of Montgomery; Sonia C. Fladd, of Jersey Shore; alumnus Ronald A. Burger, Sophia G. Wiest, of Butler; and Grant Walters, of Dover.
Pennsylvania College of Technology students and their mentors are photographed at The JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, N.C., while attending the recent National Collegiate Landscape Competition at nearby North Carolina State University. Back row (from left): Nicholas E. Yule, of Berwick; Ian A. Folsom, of Williamsport; and Brandon C. Wolfe, of Albion. Front row (from left): Seth J. Bradley, of Pottstown; faculty member Carl J. Bower Jr.; Faith E. Mitchell, of Sunbury; Grace E. Maneval, of Montgomery; Sonia C. Fladd, of Jersey Shore; alumnus Ronald A. Burger, Sophia G. Wiest, of Butler; and Grant Walters, of Dover.

Making the March 15-19 trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, were students Seth J. Bradley, of Pottstown; Sonia C. Fladd, of Jersey Shore; Ian A. Folsom, of Williamsport; Grace E. Maneval, of Montgomery; Faith E. Mitchell, of Sunbury; Grant Walters, of Dover; Sophia G. Wiest, of Butler; Brandon C. Wolfe, of Albion; and Nicholas E. Yule, of Berwick. All are pursuing degrees in landscape/plant production technology or landscape/horticulture technology: landscape emphasis. Several are enrolled in additional business-related majors.

They were accompanied by Carl J. Bower Jr., assistant professor of horticulture, and Ronald A. Burger, an award-winning nursery management alumnus making a 10th trip on behalf of his alma mater.

“Ron is our biggest supporter,” Bower said. “The students love that he is there to cheer them on, and so do I. He is always uplifting, and makes sure the students understand just what they are capable of.”

Students competed in 19 contests, with Wolfe finishing 18th overall among 510 participants.

“I couldn’t be happier with the trip; the students had a great time competing,” Bower said. “Yes, it was stressful, but they bonded as teammates, learned new skills, met students from across the country and networked extensively. All in all, just a great experience.”

Yule placed ninth in Compact Excavator Operation and 11th in Mini Track Loader Operation; Folsom finished 14th in Compact Track/Skid Steer Operation; Wiest placed 15th in Construction Cost Estimating; and Maneval finished in the top third of Annual and Perennial Identification, as well as Flower and Foliage Identification.

In team events, Wiest and Bradley placed 11th in Safety First; Folsom, Mitchell and Wolfe placed 12th in Landscape Plant Installation; Walters and Wolfe placed 13th in Hardscape Installation; and Walters and Bradley placed 14th in Arboriculture Techniques.

Bower (in top photo) celebrates with two of the college’s five recipients of NALP awards: Wiest (center), and Mitchell, of Sunbury. At bottom, all five scholars are featured in a collage of slides.
Bower (in top photo) celebrates with two of the college’s five recipients of NALP awards: Wiest (center), and Mitchell, of Sunbury. At bottom, all five scholars are featured in a collage of slides.

“I thought NCLC was a fantastic experience, definitely the most fun I’ve had so far being in the horticulture program,” Maneval said. “You could feel the energy and excitement from the students and staff and how passionate they were to be a part of such an awesome opportunity. Among the workshops and contests and many, many jokes in between, NCLC is a highlight of the program, and I can’t wait for next year!”

The three-day competition brings together the nation’s top landscape and horticulture students, companies, and dozens of major manufacturers and suppliers. Hundreds of students from two- and four-year colleges annually demonstrate their skills in real-world, competitive events and network with top companies at the industry’s largest career fair.

“Having the opportunity to go to NCLC is something I hope for all students to experience in their respective fields,” Folsom added. “The team was able to take on personal responsibilities, push past comfort zones, and apply our education and abilities, with the only expectations being our own. We came home with a very unique experience and memories to carry with us throughout our time here at Penn College. I know I plan on competing again next year!”

Among the five scholarship recipients, Mitchell was given $2,000, and Wiest received $1,500. Awarded $1,000 each were Rebecca Cornish, of Lewisburg; Chelsea T. Lahr, of Herndon; and Jadyen S. Reeder, of Lock Haven.

Alumni Redding (center) and Burger lend their support to current Penn College students, including Mitchell.
Alumni Redding (center) and Burger lend their support to current Penn College students, including Mitchell.

“I was thrilled to learn that five students received scholarships this year, up from four last year. I tell students, ‘The only way you are going to be selected is to apply, and if you put the work into it, like so many of our students do, you have as good a chance as anyone,’” Bower said. “These are all great students that absolutely deserve this recognition, and I’m glad that Faith and Sophia could be along to receive the honors in person.”

The group also connected with Elliott C. Redding, a 2017 grad (and former NCLC competitor) working in Raleigh, who stopped by to cheer on the team. Family members of Folsom, Walters and Wolfe also attended to show their support.

“This was the first time we’ve had family there,” Bower noted, “and I think that helped show the families just how great this industry can be.”

For more about the two-year horticulture major and its pathway to a bachelor’s degree, call the School of Engineering Technologies at 570-327-4516.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

Photos provided

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