Recapping the 2024 National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC)

Several of our Ruppert representatives recently attended the National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC) at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, hosted by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). This annual event brings together hundreds of landscape and horticulture students alongside industry-leading organizations, manufacturers, and suppliers for three days of competitive events, networking, recruiting, and learning. We are excited to take part in NCLC every year and have been honored to participate in several facets of the event—the competitions, career fair, faculty luncheon, scholarships, and more.

Irrigation Manager McKenna Rowles summed up her NCLC experience by saying, “This year’s NCLC was unlike any other. From the opening ceremony to the last five minutes of the Plant Installation event, these schools were in it to WIN. Every year I attend this event, I am continuously reminded of why I am in the green industry. The teamwork, dedication, and comradery that comes with each event is unmatchable.”

Pictured left to right: Joe Ketterer, Michael Moody, Steve Faber, Jim Tuzzolino, John Harich, Scott Burk, Courtney Pohlit, and McKenna Rowles. Not pictured: Melanie Anderson.

Arguably the most exciting part of NCLC is the hands-on competitions. Branch Manager Michael Moody recalls, “Ruppert made a huge investment this year with a bronze-level sponsorship and hosting the Plant Installation competitive event. This is the final and largest event of the entire NLCL competition with 45 schools and 150 students participating. It was an amazing opportunity to showcase Ruppert’s culture and brand and to allow these students to show off their talents. I competed in the Plant Installation event for UMD 15 years ago, and to have the chance to give back and be involved on the industry side was a full-circle experience for me and speaks to the industry’s commitment to providing opportunities for the next generation.”

He continued, “This event would not have been possible without the amazing assistance of our industry partners Proven Winners and Permaloc for providing all the materials needed for the event and the entire BYU grounds team, led by Anne Stahmann, who made it an amazing experience and allowed us to shine.”

Ruppert also sponsored the Faculty Luncheon the day before the opening ceremonies to foster relationships with faculty and professors and gain a better understanding of what we can do as industry professionals to better support the next generation of people joining and flourishing in our industry. Director of HR Courtney Pohlit noted, “The Faculty Luncheon provided a personalized setting for us to cultivate relationships with the advisors and faculty members who play a crucial role in educating and mentoring their students, the future leaders of our industry.”

The part that we look forward to the most every year is the career fair—the biggest recruiting event in the industry. Talent Acquisition Specialist Melanie Anderson remarked, “The career fair at NCLC is in a class of its own, bringing together about 600 students from 50 universities across the nation and offering a unique atmosphere for reconnecting with peers and forging new connections. This level of industry support underscores the value for students, providing opportunities for scouting by leadership teams and networking for future professional growth. It serves as a platform for top-tier horticulture students to access career-building prospects, with companies seeking interns and full-time hires. Ruppert’s continued investment in NCLC reflects our dedication to nurturing future industry leaders.”

At the end of the three-day event, the NALP Foundation presents its annual scholarships. Each year, we award the Ruppert Landscape Company scholarship to a deserving student pursuing a career as a landscape professional. This year, we were proud to present this scholarship to Emma Manwiller, a student at Penn State University (pictured left, alongside fellow student and scholarship winner Rylie Hannis).

“We are happy to support such a bright, talented young scholar and are excited to see where her green industry career takes her!” said Region Manager John Harich.

We would like to extend a special thanks to Greg Jolley and Phil Allen from BYU’s Plant Science department for hosting this event, and to congratulate the winners of the competition: Brigham Young University – Provo (first), Cuyahoga Community College (second), and Colorado State University (third).

Courtney summed up, “NCLC stands as an unparalleled event, one we eagerly anticipate each year. It’s more than just a chance to engage with students from top-tier programs nationwide; it’s a platform for industry professionals and vendors to unite, fostering enthusiasm and progress within our field while nurturing future leaders. We’re eager to see the dynamic energy the students will bring to Colorado State University next year!”