Pickens Tech’s Bill Cary Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

AURORA – This year, Bill Cary, horticulture instructor at Pickens Technical College, Aurora, received the Bob Cannon Lifetime Achievement Award from Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, the landscape industry’s professional organization.

“While our top award usually honors a green industry professional, Bill’s commitment to education and advancing the landscape profession makes him more than deserving of this prestigious award,” said ALCC Executive Director John McMahon. “Bill has shaped the lives of many students who have since found a career home in the landscape industry.”

Cary has taught horticulture at Pickens Technical College in Aurora for 25 years. His industry experience as a manager of large landscape businesses and owner of his own landscape company has helped shape the Pickens’ program around real-world jobs in landscape design, maintenance, irrigation and more. The curriculum he developed supports several green industry certifications.

The annual Mother’s Day Plant Sale that Cary started has been a mainstay within Aurora’s community for 25 years. The nearly 15,000 square feet of greenhouses on the campus positions the Pickens enterprise as most likely the largest non-commercial greenhouse operation in the state. Each year, Pickens horticulture students grow 11,000 petunias, 4,500 geraniums, 1,200 tomato plants and much more for the sale. Most years, inventory is sold out in two days.

“In the greenhouse,” says Cary, “is where students fall in love with plants and where horticulture opens the door to many career opportunities.” Students are assigned their own group of plants which they are responsible to nurture successfully. In the process, they learn plant science, fertilization, pest control and irrigation practices. Each student must also design and create several types of container gardens to be sold at the sale. During the sale, they assist customers.

What students learn in the greenhouse and a variety of classes translates into a variety of careers. Cary’s graduates have become award-winning landscape designers, nursery managers, superintendents of large maintenance operations, business owners and irrigation managers.

Cary has also been instrumental in establishing relationships with high school ag teachers statewide and introducing them to the landscape industry. His work laid the foundation for ALCC’s Landscape Career Pathways Program, which equips high school students for landscape careers upon graduation.

The Bob Cannon Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have given loyal, dedicated service to the landscape industry, contributed ideas, programs and other endeavors to benefit other ALCC members, and have improved the professional image of the landscape industry. It was named for Bob Cannon, an ALCC founder and visionary. Since 1978, an ALCC leader has been recognized annually for service to ALCC and the green industry.

Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC), with six chapters statewide, is the premier professional organization for Colorado’s landscape companies. For 55 years, ALCC has guided landscape professionals to address Colorado’s unique climate and to promote sustainable landscapes. ALCC promotes the responsible use of water and other natural resources and provides educational and industry certification opportunities to Colorado’s landscape professionals. More information at www.alcc.com .

CONTACT: Chuck Montera, Associate Landscape Contractors of Colorado

May 23, 2017 chuck@siglerinc.com

Preparing for the Real World After Graduation in Five Easy Steps

First of all, I don’t want to mislead you. This isn’t a blog about how to prepare every aspect of your life after you graduate from Pickens Technical College. You won’t find out how to move out of your mom’s house, get your graduation gown, or find out how to receive your diploma if you don’t want to attend the ceremony. This is a blog about how to find a job if you don’t have one lined up already, further develop your skills for a long, lucrative career, add new skills that will be useful in your work, and set yourself up for long-term success.

You can do it in five easy steps leading up to and immediately after graduation from PTC:

1. Set up your network

Teachers at PTC make an effort to connect with their students and become a resource for their success in the professional field. Think of your instructor as your first contact in your growing professional network. Chances are, by the time you reach graduation, you already have the groundwork for a network of other workers in your industry who can help you as you develop your career.

Visit your teacher during office hours, ask questions. If you think you’ll need a letter of recommendation, ask your teacher for one. See what they have to say about how to find jobs and advance your career. Talk to your classmates. They can be helpful parts of your network, and you can help them out as well, especially if you’re entering the same industry.

2. Focus on your weaknesses

During the last few weeks of the school year, it’s crunch time. You’ll be working hard to pass your exams and complete your final projects. By this point, you should know which skills you’re strong in and which you need to work on. Take some time to focus on the skills you’ll need to develop to be a better worker in your field. Remember that in order to get a job in your chosen field, you’ll need to add value to an organization or to your work itself. Focus on how to make yourself more valuable before you leave PTC and many of the resources to help you behind.

3. Develop your job-seeking materials and skills

You’ve heard the saying before: “Finding a job is a job.” It’s true. You need specific skills to find a job in just about any market. If you don’t have a job lead by this point, don’t panic. It takes months sometimes for even the most skilled workers to find jobs. (Years if you got a Humanities degree like me— that’s a different article ). Instead of freaking out, use this precious time before graduation to set yourself up for success in Job Land.

If you’re not doing it in school, download a resume example or template and write one for yourself. Once you have a first draft of this all-important document, you can work on tightening up the structure and language to catch an employer’s eye. Learn how to write cover letters if necessary. Practice to eliminate your awkward interview tendencies. Arm yourself with the skills to get a job and if you aren’t already looking for jobs, start.

4. Gather information

You did it. You graduated, you celebrated, you created ways to connect with your teachers and classmates after graduation, and you have a killer resume to hand out. As you’re looking for jobs and getting interviews, it’s also important to gather as much information about the industry you’re getting into. Connect with people in the industry, ask them questions. Learn what a typical job in your industry entails and what to expect once you get hired. Get as much information as possible.

5. Develop your management skills

As I mentioned above, it can take a while to find a job you’ll love for many reasons. Once you have a sweet gig working for an organization and people you like, it’s never too early to start taking on more responsibilities and push yourself. Most employers like workers who go above and beyond. As long as you’re focused on your immediate duties, you’ll get better at handling them.

If you want to advance, you have to develop your people and management skills. Employers are always looking for talented workers they can promote from within. They’d much rather promote you than hire someone else to take a management position. If you’re running your own business, you’re not trying to impress management, you’re trying to impress customers and clients.

They key is preparation for each stage in your career. Opportunities will come, but you must be ready to grab them when you can. It’s never too early to prepare for success.