Winning tradition sets grad on path to career

Winning competitions has become a bit of a tradition for Jeff Elshoff.

Winning competitions has become a bit of a tradition for Jeff Elshoff.


The 2014 horticulture graduate has led the Michigan State University (MSU) Horticulture Club team to four consecutive top four finishes at the annual Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Student Career Days. A national competition, PLANET’s Student Career Days feature 28 events known as the Landscape Olympics.


At this year’s PLANET Student Career Days, held at Colorado State University, students in the MSU Horticulture Club attended educational workshops and a career fair, and competed in the Landscape Olympics.


Elshoff has placed third over the past two years winning $1,000 in scholarships from the PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation. Additionally, he has won all-expenses paid trips to attend the American Society of Irrigation Consultants’ National Conference and a trip to the Irrigation Show and Education Conference.


“Participating in PLANET and the MSU Horticulture Club has prepared me for my future endeavors,” he said. “Attending many different conferences has given me opportunities to meet people in the industry.”


This year, the Landscape Olympics events included tree climbing, hardscape installation, wood construction, plant identification, exterior and interior design, irrigation troubleshooting, irrigation design, 3-D exterior landscape design, personal management and small-engine repair. Elshoff earned first place in the individual category for irrigation design.


Elshoff has also worked closely with the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association as the student representative. He kept the association up to date on what the horticulture club was doing. For that work, Elshoff was named as one of six winners for the 2013 GIE+EXPO award in Louisville, Kentucky. He received a self-propelled mower.


Elshoff landed a part-time job working for a landscaping company in Grand Rapids, but he’s working full time on his long-term career goal: starting his own business with another former member of the MSU Horticulture Club.


“If I could give future horticulture club members any advice, it would be to get involved, especially with community events and the PLANET career days,” Elshoff said.


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