January 29, 2019
Blaise Mombourquette and Tony DiGiovanni.
Blaise Mombourquette and Tony DiGiovanni.
Directly following high school, Blaise Mombourquette worked for a custom kitchen cabinet maker, but quickly found he didn’t enjoy the trade; too much time was spent in the shop and warehouse with little natural sunlight.

“I wasn’t getting out of it what I wanted,” Mombourquette explains. “Through high school I worked on a dairy farm, which was the opposite — it was really a dynamic job and it was outside. That was something I missed.”

Landscaping is something he has always wanted to do. After resigning from cabinetry, he embarked on a yearlong national mission program in Montreal to work with youth.

“I wanted to develop my values and ethics, so that was a great experience. I also wanted to do it before my career. After the mission, I was hired for their head office in Ottawa to work in the marketing communications department. I just wasn’t challenged and found myself suffocating in that role. Finally, I answered my heart’s calling to get into the landscaping industry, which was about five years ago now. I got a landscaping construction job and instantly felt my strengths, as well as my passion, ignite. Everything made sense at that point. The creativity and skillset required in landscaping make me who I am.”

Mombourquette continues to work with Landscape Ontario member, Yards Unlimited, in Ottawa, Ont., balancing the roles of employee and student at Algonquin College, where he will graduate in spring of 2019 after finishing the Horticulture Industry Program in December 2018.

Although he has a wealth of real-world work experience, there are still some things to be learned in class, and yes, at a desk.

“I would say, especially with this trade, you learn the most when you’re in the field doing the work, but on the technical side, what I’ve really gleaned from studying it is a better sense of how landscape design works and the design process — everything that goes into it and really piecing all of the elements together. Contractors sometimes take that for granted once we’re given a drawing and everything’s already laid out. That’s something that I would really like to move toward and to do more design in my own career. The plant knowledge is vital.”

A recipient of the Tony DiGiovanni Scholarship from the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation, Blaise is extremely appreciative to both the Foundation and Landscape Ontario (see sidebar).

“The last year for me has been amazing and Landscape Ontario has been a huge part of that, from competing — and winning the Skills Ontario competition in Toronto and going to the Skills Canada National Competition and placing second there. Landscape Ontario has been so supportive. When I found out that I was nominated, I was honoured and humbled. It’s wonderful being able to do something that I love and to be recognized for that; it’s really a high point for me in my studies this year. It reaffirmed that my desire and my calling is valid. I’m very grateful.”

Blaise is keen on continuing his education and has set a goal to get his undergrad in horticulture. Outside of school and work, depending on the season, he enjoys skiing and white water kayaking.

“Most importantly I do love to spend time with friends and family,” he says.

For more information on available scholarships, or to apply, visit OHTF.ca.


Thank you for the support

Hello Kathleen,

I was hoping that you might pass this email on to the Foundation.

My name is Blaise Mombourquette. I just have recently finished a horticulture program at Algonquin College. At the start of the program, I made a resolution to myself to give it my all, this included saying yes to all the extracurricular opportunities that came my way.

Fast forward a year-and-a-half, and I am humbled, astonished and blessed by the many incredible experiences and growth that I have received.

The Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation has played an integral part in making my education a successful one and an absolute blast! I am deeply grateful for the monetary award that I received for placing first at the Ontario Skills Competition. My journey with Skills this year, winning Ontario and then placing second at the national competition in Edmonton, has given me a great deal of confidence and excitement to press on in my passion for the landscape industry. Doing something I love, building and creating beautiful landscapes, and being recognized for my work inspires me beyond what my words can express. Thank you.

I also wanted to express my deep gratitude for being nominated and selected for the Tony DiGiovanni Scholarship. This meant so much to me and really solidified the aforementioned feelings I felt of being recognized for my hard work and success in this incredible industry. As a student and emerging entrepreneur, I am humbled and blessed by the support that the Foundation has given me. Please know that you have given me a great boost in what I know will be an incredible career in this industry.

It is my hope and mission to inspire others, whether clients, future employees or just people I come into contact with, to engage with the outdoors and spend more of their lives growing with the world and people around them rather than turning inwards or toward their screens.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your support!

Blaise Mombourquette

Scholarship applications close June 30

Each year, the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation awards over $50,000 in scholarships to high school and post-secondary students across the province. The funding goes to the best and brightest horticulture students who are the future of the profession, and it provides a real boost right when they need it most.

Created in 1979, the Foundation’s mandate is to ensure a healthy future for the horticulture industry through financial support for research and scholarships. With dozens of recipients each year, the foundation makes a major impact on the lives of future green professionals.

Under the Foundation umbrella, the Cullen family scholarship program also sees some $30,000 awarded to students each year.

The deadline to apply for scholarships is June 30. Applying is easy, and generally requires students to send their transcripts and a short essay describing their interest in horticulture.