The entries for Young Landscaper of the Year have now closed and contestants will face off at the end of August to be crowned champion
Designed to offer opportunities for young, motivated landscapers to showcase their skills, the Young Landscaper of the Year award offers a platform for entrants to see how they measure up against peers, learn new skills, network and increase their profile within the industry.
To be eligible for the competition, entrants must have been working in the landscape industry for a minimum of three years, be 30 years old or under on 31 December 2022 and be a New Zealand citizen or resident.
On Friday 26 August, 10 finalists will face off during three competitive rounds of a practical test of skills, followed by an interview and then a written test. This will be followed by an awards gala dinner at the Hilton Hotel, Auckland, on Saturday 27 August where the winner will be announced.
First prize will receive $2,500 as well as an entry to the Young Horticulturist of the Year awards, while the runner up will be handed $1,500. All finalists will receive a one year affiliate membership to Registered Master Landscapers.
Lots to learn
Last year’s Young Landscaper of the Year Tama Ritter said he took heaps from the event.
“The experience provides plenty of learning opportunities, as you compete at every level and find out what you need to work on. When I met the other contestants, I realised we had similar levels of experience and I knew any of us could win. Because of that, it quickly became more about the experience than the desire to win, and I’ve come away from this competition with more connections and relationships than prizes.”
The young landscapers will also be competing for several prizes, including Outstanding Achievement Emerging Leader Award, Outstanding Achievement in Construction and Physical Challenge and Outstanding Achievement in Communication.
Cool as a cucumber
Last year’s Emerging Leader Award winner Hayden Parker says that the best way to compete is to forget you’re in a competition!
“I think partly I won because at times I wasn’t really ‘competing’. If I saw someone struggling with a task, I’d offer some advice.
“For some of those who haven’t been in the competition before, the nerves can turn a task you know how to do well into something very difficult!”
Two-time competitor Ben Dyson, who picked up 2021’s Outstanding Achievement in Construction and Physical Challenge award, agrees with Parker on keeping a cool head. He reckons that anyone competing this year should relax and make the most of the time allocated.
“The judges were looking for accuracy, so stopping and taking a few extra minutes to double check your measurements, and making sure judges know you are doing this, is the approach I took.
“In fact, I think within that is a key pointer for every challenge in the competition – always use all the time you have.”
Important career development
Ben reckons the competition has helped him develop his career, too.
“I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence knowing I’m up there with industry standard. I even started my own landscape company off the back of it, which I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t entered. It’s fair to say winning the Outstanding Achievement in Construction at the Young Landscaper of the Year was a massive springboard for me to go and do that.”
Ben’s primed to go a third round this year and says he does it for the enjoyment. “It’ll be my third time competing. The fun of it keeps me coming back; it’s an awesome weekend. You get to travel, stay in a hotel, talk to people of a similar age to you and position in life! I just love it.”
Don’t forget to revise!
The Young Landscaper of the Year will test competitors at every level of their ability, including in some areas they may not frequently work in. For example, finalists are required to undertake a written test covering general knowledge questions on the landscape sector, a face-to-face interview, including a three minute speech, and practical skills exercises that may include areas such as plant identification, lawn preparation or an irrigation exercise.
Hayden and Ben both admitted to falling short with their plant knowledge, especially for species not found around their North Island neck of the woods. But the general vibe from past winner and competitors is that the less people stress, the better they do. And remember, you get what you put in.
“There are no trick questions, so try not to overthink things. But most importantly, go to have fun – don’t go with a serious, win-at-all-costs attitude. You’ll be better off for it,” says Ben.
Registered Master Landscapers is committed to supporting landscape professionals and young future leaders.
For more information contact CEO Janine Scott on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0275 444 090 www.masterlandscapers.org.nz