3 Hort Students Take 1st Place at the NCLC Competitions
Three Williamson horticulture , landscaping , and turf management students took first-place in competitions at the 2022 National Collegiate Landscape Competition ( NCLC ). The 3-day annual event was held at North Carolina State University in Raleigh , N . C ., recently . David McCann 2W2 and Tim Marino 2W2 took first-place in Arboriculture Techniques and Chris Gray 2W3 took first-place in Compact Excavator Operation .
Other Williamson students who placed were : Angel Velazquez 2W2 , sixth-place in Tractor Loader Backhoe Operation ; David McCann , fifth-place , Mini Track Loader Operation ; and Deonte Jones 2W3 , Chris Gray , and Zach Fidelibus 2W2 , eighth-place in Landscape Plant Installation . Marcello Shayeghi competed in Annual and Perennial Identification and Woody Ornamental Plant Identification .
Other events that Williamson students competed in were : Maintenance Cost Estimating , Jones ; Truck and Trailer Operation , Fidelibus and Marino ; and Compact Track / Skid Steer Loader Operation , Velazquez .
The trip to the NCLC was the first time Williamson horticulture students attended the event which brings together top landscape and horticulture students from across the country , top industry companies , and dozens of the biggest industry manufacturers and suppliers .
NCLC gave the students the opportunity to showcase the skills they have learned at Williamson as they competed in a variety of events . It also provided the opportunity to develop relationships with other students in the field and professionals from across the country , attend educational seminars and workshops , learn about new landscape construction products , and attend a very large industry-specific career fair .
Horticulture instructor Bill Beerman , who went on the trip , said “ Williamson placed 30th out of 43 schools , and competed in ten of 35 possible events . Not too shabby . Many of the top-finishing schools had over 20 competing students and competed in almost every event . Our goal is to eventually get Williamson to that level of competition .
“ When they announced the top three students in each event during the closing ceremony it was tremendous for the guys to see Williamson show up as number one in two events . Davey Tree Experts gifted over $ 1,200 in climbing gear each to Dave and Tim for placing first in the arboriculture event . We all left feeling very proud of our first showing at this event . There are now people across the country who know more about Williamson College of the Trades because of our involvement .”
Jones said , “ NCLC is a life changing experience . You gain knowledge from workshops and get to compete with the best of the best . The feeling you get from working hard and broadcasting your skills is unmatched . I hope everyone in the green industry gets to attend and be a part of NCLC at least once . If I could go every year for the rest of my life , I would ! The opportunities you get just from the career fair is amazing . I have companies telling me to keep in touch with them and that they would love to hire me full-time . I have 20 different business cards from the career fair . They love Williamson guys due to the fact that we work hard , are hands-on , and our studies are great . I want all the horticulture guys from now on to attend the competition . I will do everything in my power to make sure they do . It puts Williamson out there and it gives the students something to look forward to .”
Marino said , “ Going to the National Collegiate Landscape Competition must be one of the best things I ’ ve been a part of in my life . The main take away from the trip for me was to see how far I had come in my education and training . It was amazing to put to practice all I ’ ve learned at Williamson . Competing was amazing . The last time I felt that nervous and exciting rush was high school football . It was great to feel it again . The networking I did at this event was once in a lifetime . It ’ s like the career fair at Williamson , but on a whole other level . Every company there is there for us , no specific shops , no specific requirements . There were companies pulling us in as soon as we were done talking to another ; it was insane . I must ’ ve talked to 30 companies in an hour and there were way more than that . I wish I had had more time to talk and get my name out there even more than I did . The only advice I can give is try your hardest , network as much as you can , and enjoy the ride , there is nothing like it !!”
Shayeghi said , “ NCLC was a great experience and opportunity . We got to compete against colleges much larger and more experienced than us and we still excelled . Three out of seven of us took first place in our events . We made Williamson known as the first Williamson class to ever attend NCLC . We got to network at the career fair and talk to a bunch of companies . I learned a lot about landscaping during my workshop and got to meet students from all over the country . At night , we all went out to dinner with an alumnus * at a companysponsored dinner . I definitely recommend our shop attend next year .”
McCann said , “ There are many highlights during a person ’ s college career . For me , NCLC was one of those highlights . It was truly an amazing experience connecting with people from all around the country who are interested in the same field of study . Also , it was
On Williamson ’ s first visit to the National Collegiate Landscape Competition , students won three first-places . Pictured above with Bill Beerman , horticulture instructor , are the seven horticulture seniors who attended .
great meeting employers and learning about their company and teaching them about Williamson . This competition also added another layer of camaraderie . Normally we are competing to see who is the best in the shop ( all in good fun , of course ), but at NCLC we were working together to prove that even though Williamson is a small program , we are the best in the country . As some who learned further about our program stated , ‘ Wow , this competition was made for you guys .’ I believe this to be true with the amount of handson learning we get . If we put a guy in every competition there , we could take home the trophy . Even if we don ’ t win , I think that every hort guy should get the opportunity to go not only for the competition , but for the connections made and the knowledge gained from the various workshops . I hope that it is possible for future students to attend this event .”
Gray said , “ NCLC is an eye-opening experience . You ’ d think it ’ d be just another event . It is far from that ! It ’ s THE EVENT . Williamson seriously has a chance to be competitors at this event . I personally placed first in excavator operation . Going into the event I was nervous because the people around me seemed experienced and educated . I do have a good bit of experience with the machine , however , these kids lived on farms or worked for construction companies within the industry . When I won it was a feeling like no other . Not only was I shocked , but I felt accomplished . The networking there is also just insane . You may think our career fair is large , but NALP [ The National Association of Landscape Professionals ] brings in over 100 horticulture / landscape companies to their career fair . It was an overall amazing experience and I ’ m beyond excited to attend again next year . Mr . Beerman has brought a different level of energy to this program and I ’ m with it ! He has gone above and beyond to make this happen . Next year will be even better , more students which means more winners . Williamson will definitely be getting some serious exposure from this event .”
Beerman added , “ Ever since I was a landscape contracting student in the early 2000s , I heard people say many times , ‘ I didn ’ t even know you could study landscaping in college .’ That comment has driven me to be outspoken and passionate about an industry full of opportunities that have changed my life . I can ’ t think of a single event that brings so many like-minded folks together for one common goal : uplift the next generation of industry professionals and ensure they ’ re aware of how many folks are rooting for them to be successful industry leaders and carry the torch for those after them .
“ Almost 20 years ago , I had the opportunity to attend the NCLC ( known as Student Career Days at that time ) twice while I was a landscape contracting student at Penn State . So , being able to share that experience with current Williamson students in the role as their instructor was incredibly fulfilling . It was a tremendous experience to see the students thriving in an environment filled with learning , networking , and competing against many of the nation ’ s best students and programs in our field .
“ While the actual competitions were exciting , I believe what will stick with the students the most is the amazing variety of career path opportunities that were on display . It was a huge step forward for our program here at Williamson College and I ’ m very proud of how our inaugural group represented our school . I ’ m very much looking forward to exposing many future students to such a fantastic experience and opportunity !”
We ’ re very thankful for the support of the companies and individuals who contributed to make this trip possible , including : Tom 8W0 and Lucy Goeke , The Davey Tree Expert Company , LandCare , SiteOne , McHale Landscape Design , and Weed Man Lawn Care .
* Darryl Clugston 9W5 , a supporter of the trip , a construction technologymasonry graduate , and president and founder of D . Clugston , Inc ., a building and development company , in Apex , N . C ., joined the group at a restaurant for dinner . He shared with the students life lessons he learned since being a Williamson student .