College of DuPage Students Place in Top Five at National Horticulture Competition

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By Mike McKissack

College of DuPage horticulture students placed fourth out of all community colleges in the U.S. at the National Collegiate Landscape Competition held March 14 to 17 at Alamance Community College in North Carolina.

Sponsored by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, more than 700 students from 62 schools competed in 30 events in which students demonstrated their skills such as business management, exterior/interior landscape design, irrigation, patio building, sales, specimen identification, tree climbing and wood construction.

The following students were recognized at the competition:

Jorge Castillo (Elk Grove Village), Eighth Place in Computer-Aided Landscape Design and 55th place overall of all competitors; Steven Eyer (Naperville) and Debbie Erber (Woodridge), Seventh Place in Employee Development; Brandon Spencer (Aurora), Eighth Place in Business Management; Daniel Stantz (Northwoods), Sixth Place in Small Engine Repair and Eighth Place in Irrigation Design; and Rafael Zavala (Aurora), Second Place Tractor Loader Backhoe Operation and 14th Place overall of all competitors.

Additional COD competitors included Joseph Christian (Hinsdale), Jacob Digweed (Naperville), Tim Follin (Aurora), Robert Kugach (Elburn), Elijah Millender (Wheaton), Logan Runyen (Maroa), and Gannon Siran (Westmont).

The teams’ trip to North Carolina was sponsored by a number of Chicagoland industry sponsors, including Illinois Landscape Contractors Association, Hunter Irrigation, Russo Power Equipment, Mississippi Valley Stihl, Sebert Landscaping, Ball Horticulture, The Growing Place, Midwest Ground Covers, Midwest Trading, Landscape Design Association, Acres Group, Platt Hill Nursery, Unilock, and De Vroomen Flowers, Bulbs, and Perennials, and Coventry Gardens, LTD.

Nationally accredited by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), the Horticulture program at College of DuPage offers Associate in Applied Science degrees in Horticulture, Landscape Contracting and Management, and Sustainable Urban Agriculture, as well as nine specialized certificates, including Landscape Design and Construction, Nursery and Garden Center Management, Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Sustainable Landscapes.

For more information about the Horticulture program at College of DuPage, click here or contact Brian Clement at (630) 942-2526, or

(Pictured above: Front row, left to right: Rafael Zavala, Jorge Castillo, Elijah Millender, Jacob Digweed, Tim Follin, Steven Eyer and Brandon Spencer. Second Row, left to right: Joseph Christian, Logan Runyen, Robert Kugach, Gannon Siran, Daniel Stantz and Debbie Erber).

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