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News & Press: OTF News

Planning for the Future

Tuesday, November 10, 2015  
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Written by Andrew Muntz
Green Velvet Sod Farms
OTF Trustee

We as turf and landscape managers are constantly planning. Scheduling applications, scheduling employees, planning for what Mother Nature brings us and so on. One area that we as an industry needs to focus a little more time on, is the future of the industry. I meet with companies all across Ohio every day. The one topic that comes up during 99% of the meetings, is that there are is an extreme need for labor, on all levels. From spray technicians to landscape foremen, lawn care applicators to landscape designers; we need employees.

The turf and landscape industry in Ohio does a great job of educating ourselves with the latest and greatest product and technology as well as continued education to keep current on our pesticide licenses. We need to learn to encourage the next generation that our industry is great. We are all here because we love what we do. If we don’t pass this passion along, the industry could be in trouble in the upcoming years.

One thing we did recently at OTF with the help of the OSU Turf Team was to look at the numbers of currently enrolled students at different turf programs across the Midwest. To say the least, numbers are down, way down, from where they have been in the past. How does that effect you? For one, that means there are less graduates coming into the market looking to help you make money. Another aspect, is with less students in the seats, it is harder to keep research programs and faculty on staff at the different universities. Less research, means reduced university output, and eventually less to report to you! Less faculty on staff, means fewer folks around to help answer your questions and solve your problems.

So there is the problem, now what is the solution? Educate. Educate the young people you come in contact with. Church, school, children, children’s friends, part time workers, etc. There are thousands of students that will be leaving high school every year. All of these students will need a career and I would imagine there are quite a few that have no idea that they could go on to manage a golf course, sports field, landscape, etc. I can tell you personally, that when I left high school, I had no clue that the green industry was a place for a career. One thought that comes through my mind often, is if we could get 1 student, just 1 student, from every county in Ohio to go to OSU, the number of students in the turfgrass program would quadruple.

Encourage students to give it a try by working at a golf course, sports field, or lawn and landscape company. It’s not for everybody, but there must be more potential employees for this industry. If you find a student that is interested, encourage them to look at one of the great career centers around Ohio. If they are in graduation mode, consider having them look at one of the community colleges, OSU ATI, or The Ohio State University and one of the landscape, turfgrass, or horticultural majors.

There are many ways to help a students find their way into our industry, and many options to choose from. We can help to encourage the future of the green industry, by helping others plan their careers. Our network is relatively small, and I know that there are just a few phone calls that can be made to help the next generation succeed. No donations necessary, No overwhelming time requirements, just a little encouragement and planning.

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