More than 600 high school students from across New England made the trip to Boston on February 4 – 6, 2015 to participate in New England GROWS’ new Future Leaders program.

“New England GROWS is a great place for young people to explore all the possibilities and potential available to them in this growing industry,” said Doug McDuff, New England GROWS’ board member and owner of Landscape America, Inc. in Wrentham, Massachusetts. “Engaged students make stellar employees. As business owners, we’re thrilled with the enthusiastic response this new recognition program received.”

The Future Leaders program provided high school students with an opportunity to gain cutting-edge horticultural knowledge, engage with industry leaders, explore the latest equipment and services, and become familiar with many career options.

The students’ day began with an orientation session that featured a quick overview of the green industry and guidance from a panel of industry representatives who, along with many other GROWS participants, served as Future Leader Ambassadors.

“I was one of the lucky students to attend [the orientation session at GROWS] and I was skeptical about how interested I would be,” said one student. “As soon as the first speaker started to convey his knowledge of the industry, I was hooked…I realized just how lucky I was to be in that room.”

With Ambassadors’ tips in hand, students fanned out across the exposition and conference to learn all that they could about the green industry in New England. They attended conference sessions, visited with exhibitors, checked out the Career Center, and spoke with industry members to learn more about their potential career path.

After the conference, students were encouraged to write an essay about what they learned from their experience at New England GROWS. First place went to Quintin McCartney, a student at Essex Technical High School in Danvers, Massachusetts. Honorable Mention was awarded to Brenna Christensen of Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, Connecticut, as well as Kevin Witkum of Essex Technical High School. Noteworthy quotes from some of the students’ essays follow:

 “I wanted to learn how the industry worked, how to talk to people, and how to be a good employee. Some people had a lot to say and others had a few words, but with each person I learned something new. I learned that you can’t just sit back and expect things to come to you. You have to go out and make them happen, so that is that I am going to do.”

 

“New England GROWS was a valuable resource in learning about future careers in this industry as I could talk to real horticulturists, arborists, and landscape professionals. It expanded my knowledge of the field, the problems that it faces, and the innovative solutions implemented by these professionals.”

 

“I will use the knowledge that I gained from this experience in my future and I can look back on this and thank New England GROWS for giving me my jump start in an amazing career!”

 

Check out the Tree Services photo gallery of New England Grows as well as more coverage of the conference.

The next annual New England GROWS will be from December 2-4, 2015.