JACKSON TWP.  Two members of Jackson High School’s horticulture class placed in the top 10 in the Ohio High School Landscape Olympics on Nov. 4.

Deric Gazdic and Jared Albrecht, both seniors, placed third and seventh respectively.

It was the first time the competition was held at The Ohio State University ATI in Wooster. More than 150 students from 17 schools participated. The competition was created to provide a fun and educational competition where students can test their hands-on skills. It’s also a way for industry representatives to experience the next generation of professionals.

"Students competed in 10 different hands-on events where awards were given for teams and for individuals," Jackson High School program instructor Roy Dria said.

The different events included compact excavator operation, construction cost estimating, sales presentation, skid steer operation, plant identification, hardscape installation, irrigation assembly and troubleshooting, landscape maintenance operations, landscape plant installation and truck and trailer operation.

"Deric received the third-best overall award and Jared earned the seventh-best overall," Dria said. "Both students practiced an hour after school to prepare to compete. We had many companies from the community help us by lending us equipment for the students to practice using."

Some of the companies that lent the equipment in the area were Ohio CAT, Leppo Bobcat, Davey Tree and the Jackson Township Parks Department.

"This was a state-wide competition and Jackson had two students come out in the top ten," Dria said. "We had 34 students attending with 20 competing. The students worked hard and they did a great job."

The Horticulture/FFA program prepares students to enter any number of careers such as working in greenhouses, landscape maintenance and some design, hardscapes or floral design. Dria said he had one student go on to college for journalism because she wanted to work as a horticulture and agriculture journalist.