The Delaware Area Career Center hosted the “Landscape Olympics” Wednesday, and the team of students from the DACC took home third place.
During the event, 10 teams of landscaping students from various career centers and schools faced off in a variety of competitions related to landscaping, including irrigation, estimating, tree installation, zero turn mowing, sod installation and walk-behind mowing.
DACC Landscaping instructor Gary Kessler said the competitions are a good way to test students’ abilities.
“They used to do a national certification and all these events are based on the national certification,” Kessler said.
The DACC team was comprised of seniors Azaria Juillet, from Westerville North High School; Thomas Griffin, from Olentangy Liberty High School; as well as juniors Taelynn Ayers and Zach Biniker, who are both home schooled.
Kessler said he was proud of the DACC team heading into the competition.
“(We have) two first-year kids, and it’s great for them to (be here),” Kessler said. “They worked hard, practiced and got ready for it.”
Kessler said he enjoyed seeing the students put their skills to the test and while he hoped for a top-five finish to put a banner on the wall, he just wanted them to push themselves.
“(I like to see) the eagerness to learn and the prep for it,” Kessler said. “Some of them were so nervous about it this morning. I told them, “Go in there, have fun, and see where you’re at in relation to other schools. It’s nice to win but try and improve.’”
Kessler said the judges at the competitions were all from the landscaping industry, which he said means students get valuable feedback during each competition.
“It motivates them,” Kessler said.
Biniker said Wednesday in between events that he was enjoying himself.
“The mowers are fun to operate, but the competition is fun too,” Biniker said. “I was nervous about walk behind because I didn’t have much practice, but it worked fine.”
Biniker said the competitions were validating as well.
“I enjoyed getting to put the skills I’ve learned to use,” he said. “I liked using them for more than just practice.”
Biniker took second place in the zero-turn mowing competition.
For the members of the DACC team, the competition took place during their spring break. Ayers said she didn’t mind that at all.
“I have an internship this week so I was already working,” Ayers laughed. “I enjoy it. It’s better than sitting in the house doing nothing.”
Ayers said she enjoyed putting her skills to the test in the events.
“I like the idea of all the schools getting together and just being with each other,” Ayers said. “It helps students branch out and get to know a lot of other people. Using our skills is really nice. It lets us know we are doing something with (what we’ve learned). Knowing that my skills can be useful is nice.”
At the end of the competition, Ayers and Juillet took first place in the sod install competition and earned a perfect score. The pair also got a perfect score in the tree installation competition but finished slower than the first-place team, who also had a perfect score.
Juillet took 10th overall in the individual competition, and the DACC team took third place overall.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.