In October, 53,358 FFA students, sponsors and advisors gathered in Indianapolis, to proudly represent their schools and states in competitions designed to test their knowledge and skills during the 84th annual National FFA Convention. For the ninth year, Stihl was a proud sponsor of the Nursery and Landscape Career Development Event (CDE).
“Through the Stihl sponsorship, we hope to educate the future leaders of the industry on viable career options that promote environmental responsibility and sustainability,” said Roger Phelps, promotional communications manager for Stihl Inc. “The FFA students show so much drive and passion for their education, and Stihl is proud to continue to invest in their future.
The National FFA Nursery Landscape CDE is a competitive activity in which FFA members test their knowledge and skills in nursery practices and landscaping. Contestants must complete a general knowledge exam that tests horticultural principles including plant anatomy, production, marketing, turf, landscape design and maintenance. Each participant must also complete practicums involving a landscape drawing, landscape estimating, plant propagation or potting, identification of plants, disorders and equipment, and verbal sales skills. Each team competed on local and state levels to earn the privilege of representing their state at the National FFA convention.
This year as part of the national CDE competition, students were tested on their verbal sales skills and evaluated based on real-life customer service issues. Phelps, who helped administer the test, used a recent Stihl recall as the case study. The choice raised some eyebrows from participants, surprised that the company would share this information.
“Responsible companies do not hide from issues, and we felt it was essential to show the students how it is not only possible but essential to turn a perceived negative into a positive,” said Phelps. “The students were able to experience first hand what good customer service can do in retaining and growing customer satisfaction and loyalty. It is something our Stihl dealers do every day, and the exercise generated an incredible response from the students as well as their coaches.”
As part of the sponsorship, Stihl Inc. will send the top two teams from North Carolina and Kansas to compete in the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Student Career Days (SCD) March 22-25, 2012 in Manhattan, Kan. This three-day event, sponsored by STIHL, brings together over 900 college students and business leaders from across the country for a career fair and competition across a wide range of industry disciplines.
Winners of the FFA Nursery and Landscaping Career Development Event are:
Top Placing Teams
Next year’s event will take place in Indianapolis, October 24-27, 2012.