June 15, 2015
Horticulture students compete at Skills Ontario
The competition is tough at Skills Ontario, as two-student teams compete against the clock, while still sneaking a peek at other teams’ progress.
Students from both college and secondary school horticulture programs were among the 2,000 competitors testing their skills in the annual Skills Ontario competition from May 4 to 6 at RIM Park in Waterloo.

Over 30,000 spectators attended the event. Competitions included horticulture – landscape and design. Skills Ontario features 67 skilled trades and technology contests, ranging from plumbing to culinary to automotive service.

Landscape Ontario staff once again supported the Skills Ontario competition, including workshops for grade 8 students to try their hand at the trade. Students learned about plants, horticulture and Landscape Ontario.

LO supported the technical committees of post-secondary and secondary horticulture and landscape competitions, along with a career booth at the competition.  

At Skills, there are three categories related to the green industry, Landscape Gardening – Secondary, Landscape Gardening – Post Secondary and Landscape Design – Secondary.

In the horticulture-landscape competition, teams of two were tested by building gardens based on a common set of criteria and drawings. Skills under evaluation included creating walls from precast paving units, laying paving stones, plant selection and placement of landscape rocks.

The post secondary gold-winning team members were Shaquan Lamar Brown and Derick Mederios of Humber College. Silver went to the St. Clair College team of Shaun St. Pierre and Zac Hertel. Third went to Matthew Curiale and Jacob Hambleton of Fanshawe College, fourth to Brad Rodgers and Trevor Straatman of St. Clair College and fifth to Shane Cardinal and Jasdeep Heer of Humber College.

In the secondary school category, gold went Jake Gerber and Tait Goos of Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational School, while silver went to Joshua Moreira and Aj Nelson of Monsignor Doyle Catholic Secondary School in Waterloo, and bronze to Garrett Reed and Carmen Weathrall of Grey Highlands Secondary School, Flesherton.

 In order of finish, the remaining secondary school teams included Tim Theocharidis and Tylar Verbancic of Dunbarton High School in Pickering,  Thomas Bennett and Jake Forbes of Notre Dame Roman Catholic Secondary School in Burlington, Caleb Gryfe and Sujeththan Ravichandran of Parkdale Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Hannes Oberholzer and Tommy Reader of White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, Fernando Ferreira and Johnathan Gomes of Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary School in Toronto, Matthew Bedell and Cameron McCue of Judith Nyman Secondary School in Brampton, and Chad Aulbrook and Matthew Giangnolini of St. Michael High School in Niagara Falls.

The Landscape Design competition saw gold go to Rabia Muhammad of White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, silver to Ismail Edun of Louise Arbour Secondary School in Brampton, and bronze to Noah Mothersell of Grey Highlands Secondary School in Mount Forest, followed by Gregoire Salvador of Blessed Mother Teresa in Toronto and Hope Turnbull of Glenview Park Secondary School in Cambridge.

The Landscape Design competition was started four years ago as a presentation event to evaluate interest through participation. Due to record participation, it was elevated to a competition in 2012.   

The horticulture competitions are sponsored heavily by Permacon, Connon/NVK, Gelderlands, TNT Property Maintenance and the City of Waterloo. Several provincial suppliers provide power tools, etc., specific to the contest scope each year.

Gold medal winners are eligible to compete in the national competition that took place from May 27-30, 2015 at Prairieland Park in Saskatoon. From there gold medal winners may qualify for the World Skills competition this August in Brazil.

The Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation supplied $4,150 this year in financial awards to gold, silver and bronze medal winners. At last year’s closing ceremony, the Foundation was recognized for its contributions to the Skills event.

Shaun Scott, president of Skills Ontario board of directors, said, “Skills Ontario is very pleased that industry partners such as the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation has stepped forward to provide an incentive for Ontario’s talented youth to pursue the skilled trades as their career choice.”