Today the 41st National Collegiate Landscape Competition kicked off in earnest with the opening ceremony.
Students were decked out in school colors and some even donned body paint for the event. Cowbells were rattled and vuvuzela horns were blown with exuberance announcing the presence of certain schools.
Jon Cundiff, incoming president for the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) kicked things off as the current president Brett Lemcke was waylaid by the northeaster snowstorm.
He thanked Brigham Young University for hosting and the sponsors for helping put on the event.
“STIHL has been our platinum sponsor for more than 15 years now,” he said.
STHIL’s corporate communications manager, Roger Phelps, was introduced and he expressed his pleasure at working in an industry that shares a common vision of giving back to the environment. He harkened back to Phil Allen’s words during the NALP Foundation scholarship dinner the night before.
“He reminded us to be grateful and that none of us succeed on our own,” Phelps said. “I challenge you to look at everyone who contributes to this event and be thankful. Take some time today to seek them out and thank them.”
This year’s winner of the Husqvarna T-shirt design contest was Alysha Lawless from Virginia Tech.
The Young Entrepreneur Award went to Mark Maslow, president of Southern Landscape Group based in Evington, Virginia. Maslow started mowing lawns in high school and graduated from Virginia Tech. He previously attended NCLC and was the 2004 first place superstar.
Maslow’s company now grosses nearly $5 million annually. He credits his success by focusing on his core values, hiring the best employees and great customer service.
“After perseverance and hundreds, if not thousands, of lessons learned the hard way, which costs the most, I have had some measure of success,” Maslow said.
Maslow credited Marty Grunder as one of his many mentors and encouraged students to always listen first, ask for help and to hustle like no one else.
“This industry is filled with people who want to help you,” Maslow said.
More than 750 students from 61 colleges filled up the Utah Valley Convention Center ballrooms eager to compete in their favorite part of the opening ceremony: roll call.
In the spirit of March Madness, the John Deere team that was doing the judging decided to set up a bracket of the final four best colleges. The universities had 20 seconds to do a rallying cry.
Some did renditions of their school chants while others threw in references to John Deere in hopes of swaying the judges. The final four ended up being Alamance Community College which sang about a seedling to the tune of “Hooked on a Feeling.”
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College sang a rendition of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Sandhills Community College did a parody of Smash Mouth’s “All Star.”
North Dakota State University rounded out the finalists with a tune to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
The audience got to decide who the final winner of the $1,000 for best cheer was by applauding the different schools. Sandhills Community College was declared the winner by horns blowing and general clapping.
To see portions of the chants yourself, check out Total Frauengruenden’s Instagram for the Final Four.