February 15, 2011
By Sally Harvey CLT, CLP
Education and Labour Development Department

Sally HarveyMy column this month will focus on the spirit of volunteerism that can found in our students. Landscape Ontario had the privilege to work with students to build the Landscape Ontario Resource Booth at Congress 2011. We spent Saturday through Monday building the booth for our industry members, ensuring that they had full access to staff, products and services that we offer.

We had the pleasure of working with the students from the Pre-Apprenticeship class from Humber College, eight second-year diploma students from Fanshawe College and two enterprising young women who trekked down from St. Clair College on their own accord to volunteer for our booth build and during the show. We know that building a booth is different from building a landscape, so I was worried that they would not be very attentive to the scope of work.

I am not an easy person to impress. I was impressed! These students were committed to making your booth and your show look as professional as possible, and not once complained about any task at hand. They were in awe of the magnitude of our industry and all that it had to offer. They were impressed with all the booths, as well as the networking opportunities that they experienced from this amazing industry during the entire show.

This experience is typically not attainable in class. I assure you that our future is vibrant with these students entering our industry. Their sense of goodwill and desire to learn and be part of this industry were certainly demonstrated repeatedly during the week of Congress. The more we engage our students and youth, the more we will prosper. Our future is strong.

I encourage educators, students and employers to get involved in any of the shows/events that are happening in your Chapters or  at Congress, Canada Blooms and Expo as the experiential learning and connection to industry are vital to engaging our students for our future. The industry welcomes it, as our students and youth are our future.

An example of the goodwill and desire, noted in this column, is demonstrated in the following report from Fanshawe student Charlie Briggs, who was among the group of students who visited Congress:
“An annual event for the final year students of Fanshawe College’s Horticulture Technician Program is the expedition to Landscape Ontario’s Congress in Toronto. During this overnight visit, the students not only get to browse through the many booths put up by industry members, but put their skills and training to work in the construction of a full-sized garden within the Congress Centre. Returning to Fanshawe after the holidays to complete our last semester in the Horticulture Technician Program, my 26 classmates and I were ready to head to Congress and take part in this growing tradition.

“This year’s garden, like those of previous visits to Congress, was another design by program instructor Pat Callon. Centred on a prehistoric theme, the garden consisted of multiple raised beds, constructed out of concrete stone filled with woodland debris and ancient-looking plant species lent to our program by the Royal Botanical Gardens.

“The expected build duration would fill all our available time in Toronto, so when our class arrived at the Congress Centre from London, we immediately set to work. Over the next two days, each member of the program (students and instructors) gave it their all to complete the garden on time. By the end of the first day, hopes were not too high, due to the speed of the construction and the extent of the design. Returning the following morning, our final day at Congress, all members of the program were determined to complete the job. Morale was raised by mid-day, as we realized that the end was near. By the early evening, construction was completed and our class was heading home.

“Thank you to Landscape Ontario and all the industry members who facilitated and supported the construction of our garden.”

Canada Blooms is fast approaching. I encourage everyone to get involved with the building of this show. Last year, 44 Landscape Ontario members built our 5,000 sq. ft. feature garden. We had many students who came out before and during March break to take advantage of the opportunity to work side by side with industry leaders in the trade. They networked and gained exceptional on-the-job training and of course, reaped the benefits of their hard work and the joy of watching others appreciate the space we designed and built. This year we are building a larger feature garden spanning 9,000 sq. ft. The LO feature garden will be the entrance to the show, and display green technologies and design elements that speak to the show theme, Rhythms. To find out about student engagement opportunities around the province, contact me at sharvey@landscapeontario.com.
Contact Sally Harvey should you have any questions at sharvey@landscapontario.com.