Last night, landscaping business leaders and the bright minds of the industry’s future gathered to celebrate the National Association of Landscape Professionals Foundation scholarship recipients.
The event was held as part of the National Collegiate Landscape Competition, which is under way this week at Mississippi State University.
At the Wednesday night reception, 53 students were recognized for their achievements in pursuing a landscaping-related degree. Most recipients were awarded NALP Ambassador Scholarships of $1,000 each, while 12 Platinum Ambassador Scholarship winners received $2,500 each.
The President’s Scholarship, which is worth $3,000, was awarded to Ben Harcy from Michigan State University.
The National Association Landscape Professionals Foundation has been around since 1998. In addition to awarding scholarships to college students, its goal is to raise public awareness about the professional careers in the green industry.
“With the foundation we have almost $5 million that we manage and we take the earnings off of that to provide the scholarships, so in order to endow a scholarship, you have to put in $25,000,” said Jim McCutcheon, CEO of HighGrove Partners LLC. “I’ve got Platinum ambassadorship so I’ve put in $50,000. The scholarship is in perpetuity; even after my death it will continue.”
This year’s recipient of the HighGrove Partners and The McCutcheon Family Scholarship is Mary Lewis from the University of Georgia. She has already accepted an internship at Disney.
“This will probably go toward the fund that is for next semester,” she said. “Being out of state means I have to win a lot of these to cover everything, but luckily it’s enough. This will be a big help.”
Lewis has won eight or nine scholarships thus far in her college career. Her goal is to work at Disney, and she has taken on strategic internships to make herself perfectly packaged for her dream employer.
When asked why more students don’t apply for scholarships, she said she thinks most see it as too much work.
“You have to get your transcript together and letters of recommendation; but, if you look at the economics of it all, taking that hour – hour and a half, maybe even three hours – it takes to apply for a scholarship, it is more than worth it,” Lewis said. “It pays for itself.”
Lewis admits that it does require a lot of work to write the resume and letters correctly so that she can be considered, and she actually missed the deadline for last year’s entry for the NALP Foundation Scholarship because she and her professor were working on rewriting her admission papers.
“That’s one thing that I had that a lot of kids don’t,” she said. “I have a professor who knows what the industry is looking for, word-wise, what they want us to say and what they want us to demonstrate.”