The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) Foundation awarded more than $110,000 in scholarships to a number of deserving green industry students last night at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Frank Mariani, Sr., president of the NALP Foundation, thanked the landscaping companies for their generous giving and the reception’s sponsor Stihl. Roger Phelps, corporate communications manager for Stihl, congratulated the students and encouraged them to thank all of the businesses that are attending the National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC) in support of them.
“We get to make communities better,” Phelps says. “We literally make the landscape better.”
A total of 82 scholarships were awarded, with 51 being NALP Ambassador Scholarships of $1,000+ each. Another 15 scholarships were Platinum Ambassador Scholarships worth $2,000 or higher.
The President’s Scholarship, worth $3,000, was presented to Justin Wigdahl from Iowa State University.
One of students who was recognized was Alyssa Brown, a senior landscape management major from Brigham Young University – Provo. She received the John Deere Landscape Industry Scholarship. This is the third green industry scholarship she has earned.
“Honestly, it’s just a huge blessing,” Brown says. “I have worked to fund my education through jobs and through scholarships, so it’s really cool to be able to say that I’m graduating debt free and it’s giving me a nice buffer to go ahead and start grad school.”
Brown plans to attend BYU’s environmental science program and this scholarship allows her to worry a little bit less about work and focus on school.
“My long-term goal is to get into academia and teach,” she says. “I kind of realized I’m super passionate about horticulture and I’m super passionate about helping the industry become better, and I hope to be able to do that through research.”
Brown says she enjoys helping teaching classes at school as a TA and she also works as a research assistant currently. She says she found landscape management when considering what she wanted to major in that met the criteria of what she wanted for her life.
“I wanted to have a successful career but I also wanted to have a family, and I wanted to have time to give back to my community and I wanted to enjoy what I was doing and also I really care about the environment,” she says. “I really believe that when you improve a person’s environment, you improve a person’s life. So, when I was applying to BYU and I looked at all of the list of programs that they had, I made a list of all the ones that would allow me to do all of those things: serve my community, better the environment and balance work, life and family.”
Landscape management stood out to Brown, despite having never done anything in it.
“I kind of just took a leap of faith and applied in the landscape management program with that as my listed major, and I said, ‘You know, I’m just going to go and start it and if I don’t like it, I’ll change,’ but I totally fell in love once I got involved in the program,” she says.
She decided to get very involved in the program to determine if it was right for her and that is what brought her to NCLC her freshman year.
“I just fell in love with my program, my professors, my classmates and the industry,” Brown says. “There’s a huge sense of community and so I was like, ‘Yup, I would definitely be happy doing this,’ and it allows me to do all the things I wanted to do initially.”
Brown’s first NCLC was at CSU in 2014 and her university won the competition. She missed the 2015 and 2016 competitions but returned when BYU hosted in 2017 and won again. BYU won for a second year in a row in 2018 and Brown says they’re hoping for a third straight victory this year.
Brown encourages others to take advantage of the opportunities that are available in the industry.
“You can do virtually anything you want if you’re willing to get involved and put in the work and get outside your comfort zone,” she says. “I guess if I was going to give advice to students, that would be my advice. Don’t be afraid to do something great. Live your dreams but you have to work for them.”