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EKU Horticulture Students Participate in NCLC Competition

EKU students and faculty at the NCLC in Utah

EKU Horticulture was in Provo, Utah, from March 19-22 for the 41st Annual National Collegiate Landscape Competition (NCLC) at host school BYU-Provo. NCLC is an annual three-day competition and networking event for students enrolled in interior and exterior horticulture programs at two- and four-year colleges and universities from across the country. Eastern Kentucky University students have participated since 2004.

Representing EKU this year and pictured above (left to right) are: 

  • John Duvall (EKU Horticulture Technician),
  • Molly McKinney (Senior Landscape and Nursery student),
  • Brian Gesner (Senior Fruit and Vegetable Production student),
  • Christina Newton (Senior Floriculture and Greenhouse student),
  • Austin Martin (Junior Landscape and Nursery Student),
  • Will Rogers (Senior Turfgrass Management student),
  • Angela Gesner (Senior Fruit and Vegetable Production student),
  • Carla Hagan (Agriculture/Horticulture Professor), and
  • Cody Domenghini (Horticulture Professor and Horticulture Club Advisor).

There are several exciting areas of competition, most of which are judged on an individual basis. EKU students performed exceptionally well. Will Rogers placed 1st in the Compact Excavator Operation competition and 4th in the Tractor Loader Backhoe Operation, giving him an overall ranking of 5th place among 672 horticulture students from across the country.

Brian Gesner placed 10th in the Construction Cost Estimating competition; along with his team competitions as described below, which ranked him 30th place overall.

Austin Martin placed 29th in Skid Steer Operation; along with his team competitions this ranked him 50th place overall among all competing students.

Molly McKinney placed 17th in Business Management out of 82 students while also managing to secure some highly desired job interviews with landscape firms.

Christina Newton placed 26th in both Maintenance Cost Estimating and Flower & Foliage Design while also running EKU Horticulture’s social media campaign. Coverage of the competitions was all over Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (#ekuhorticulture, #NALPNCLC). 

Angela Gesner competed with Brian Gesner and Austin Martin in what is viewed by many as the highlight competition of the event — a 1 hour and 50 minute landscape plant install competition. NCLC saves it as the last competition and everyone comes out to watch. EKU placed 14th out of the 57 teams competing. 

Austin and Will also worked together as a team during the Truck & Trailer Operation finishing 16th of 53 teams. It was their first time competing as a team in the event; although, Will competed last year with Mike Cain.

Will and Brian competed together in Wood Construction placing 9th of 30 teams and in Irrigation Assembly placing 19th of 42 teams. 

Pleased with the team's performance, Hagan commented, "Out of 60 schools participating, EKU ranked at 32, a great feat when most of the other schools bring teams of 20-30 students."

She continued, "EKU Horticulture students were visited by executives from Stihl, Gravely, and John Deere. The skills exhibited in this competition will no doubt help to secure long and satisfying careers for those that participated."

Find out more about EKU's horticulture program at

Published on March 21, 2017

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