From a snowplow and salt spreader raffle to raise awareness of breast cancer to the first HNA Humanitarian Project Award to PLANET Gives Back, those in the landscape industry wear their heart on their sleeve.
PLANET Gives Back
The third annual PLANET Gives Back event brought landscapers, industry professionals and students to Louisville's Home of the Innocents, a nonprofit shelter and pediatric convalescent center that served over 3,900 children last year.
Arriving on-site just before noon, volunteers were given lunch before heading out to the grounds. Work included cleanup and enhancements to the butterfly garden and raised garden beds, playground cleanup and installation of mulch. Trees were planted in various locations, and several irrigation-related projects were also completed.
The crew I was on included several students, some who had driven down just to volunteer for the event, like Becky Hildebrandt and Marilee Fehr. Becky is in her first year at Cincinnati State preparing for her second career as a landscape designer. She spent many years working as an accountant, but decided she wanted to do something more creative. Marilee, also a student at Cincinnati State, has been studying landscape horticulture and urban agriculture. After graduation she has plans to teach.
Another student, Kyle Knierim was in town for the GIE+EXPO. Kyle is in his sophomore year at Ozark Technical Community College in Missouri. He's already spent several years working on golf courses, and his goal is to eventually serve as a golf course superintendent, preferably on the West Coast.
As seen in the photos, the chilly weather didn't dampen the spirit of the volunteers. And the energy level remained high throughout the day, with rakes, shovels, trimmers, blowers and skid steers almost constantly moving.
Lead sponsors for the event were: GIE+EXPO, Belgard Hardscapes, John Deere, Fisher, Include Software, CNA, Bartlett Tree Experts, Western, Blizzard Snowplows and Nature Safe. Stihl and Syngenta provided supporting sponsorship.
Raffle to Raise Awareness
Michigan contractor Troy Clog, Troy Clogg Landscape Associates LLC, partnered with industry Fisher Engineering and SnowEx to promote breast cancer awareness and help raise funds for the Susan G. Komen Louisville Affiliate. His company helped the organization raffle off a pink FISHER XV2 V-plow and a pink SnowEx SP-7550 spreader during the 2013 GIE+EXPO.
Clogg and his wife, Linda, are no strangers to helping those in need. In 2010, their company created and trademarked a product called Hot Pink Deicer. The company donates a portion of the proceeds from sale of the deicer to local families battling breast cancer.
"Breast cancer affects families physically, emotionally and financially," Clogg said. "We were determined to find a way to provide a positive impact for our local community."
Last year, Clogg began using custom pink SnowEx spreaders to promote the breast cancer awareness message, and is now working with Douglas Dynamics to procure pink snowplows for his company.
"People come up to our crews and ask them why our spreaders are pink. This allows us to open the conversation about breast cancer awareness and let them know how they can help," said Clogg. "Now we want to complete the package with pink plows."
The raffle winners, which were chosen on the final day of the show are:
Pink SnowEx SP-7550 spreader - Michael Manley, Clermont, Fla.
Pink FISHER XV2 V-plow winner - Brian Crouch, Falmouth, Ky.
Landscape Company Gives to Military Spouse
There's a saying "Everything's bigger in Texas," and Heart of Texas Landscape & Irrigation proved that includes the heart. The Belton, Texas, company donated 100 percent of the labor and materials for a three-day backyard makeover for Fort Hood's Military Spouse of the Year, Marily Considine. Marily, whose husband his serving his third tour in Afghanistan, has battled and won a fight with breast cancer.
Heart of Texas President Ben Pamplin and his crew took over the Considines' backyard, installing an outdoor kitchen with granite countertops and a grill, flat-screen TV, dining area, fire pit, pergola, a brand-new water feature and a horseshoe pit.
Despite 4 inches of rain and a hailstorm, the crew completed the job by the deadline, just in time present Marily with her Mother's Day surprise. For their efforts, Heart of Texas Landscape & Irrigation received the first Humanitarian Project Award during the HNA Hardscape Project Awards Breakfast.
With the people in this industry, you can be sure it won't be the last. In the words of Ewing Hardscapes' Dennis Hyde, who served as emcee at the awards ceremony: "Let's keep our eye out for the opportunity to give back."