March 15, 2015
Students express their thoughts on experiences at Congress
Students had a big presence at this year’s Congress. Pictured here are students from Niagara College.
By Denis Flanagan

By the time you are reading this article, students will be looking forward to another March Break (reading week) in Ontario. Hopefully, lots of kids will have the opportunity to visit Canada Blooms and be inspired to think about a career in horticulture.

Speaking of inspiration, it was a pleasure speaking with the college students who took part in building gardens at Landscape Ontario’s Congress in January. I spoke with a number of teachers and students on how they felt about experiencing Congress.

Judging by their skill set, keenness and positive attitude I think the students have a very bright future in our industry. I hope they will in turn visit the high schools that they attended and spread the word about the opportunities that exist in the exciting world of horticulture.

Jason Milling, Head Technician at St. Clair College, Windsor
“The Congress build is an event that the students look forward to each year. The chosen students get the opportunity to utilize some of the skills they have been developing during their education here at St. Clair College. The opportunity to showcase themselves at an event as grand as Congress is exciting for them. At times it can get hectic, and it certainly can be challenging, much like developing an installation in the industry. Everyone on the team has a job to perform while assembling the project and everyone on the team takes pride in representing the college and the future of the landscape industry. Congress gives the students an opportunity to network in the industry and make connections. It also gives the students the opportunity to bond with their peers in a setting outside of the classroom. For the students Congress is a resounding thumbs up.

students building a gardenHumber College students at work.
Mike Mason, Fanshawe Horticulture student
“We worked together, accomplished our goals with a step-by-step process. The class did a great job. The whole two-day experience of working and staying together as a class was exhilarating.”

Michael Hoekstra, Horticulture Technician Coordinator, Niagara College
“The opportunity for our landscape students to participate in the design and building of the Niagara College ‘UnWined Garden’ at this year’s LO Congress, allowed the students to experience a level of understanding that only a ‘real world’ project can provide.”

Blair Cole, Niagara College student
“I feel that the only way to totally understand the complexity of a landscape design build project is to do it. The LO student garden provided me that critical experience. And it was totally fun.”

Justin Clairmont, student St. Clair College
The build in Toronto was a great learning experience. I was able to learn many new techniques and skills with some good people. I made many new friends in the process and gained many memories. It was a long ten hours of hard work, but the end result was worth it. I was very proud of what we all built together, and I am looking forward to doing it again next year.”   

students working with a wheelbarrowDurham College garden construction.
Professor Shane Jones, Horticultural program, Durham College
“I have had the opportunity to experience building a students’ garden at Congress from the perspective of an educator and as a student. There are two things I can say with certainty. First, it takes a great deal of hard work ‎and passion to build those gardens within those two days. Second, it’s worth every bit of it!”