Fifteen students, along with faculty from Chattahoochee Technical College will board a bus March 11 for North Carolina State University in hopes of returning as the best of the best at the 39th annual Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) Student Career Days. The three day event includes seminars, a career fair and is highlighted by a competition where students will be pitted against more than 60 other colleges and more than 850 students in a hands-on, academic competition.
Twice students from Chattahoochee Technical College have taken home the trophy for the highest score and best performance out of more than 60 competing schools. Additionally several of the last few Superstar students (the individual with the highest score in five events) have also come from the college’s Acworth Campus.  “We certainly feel the pressure of this tradition of excellence,” said Horticulture Instructor John Hatfield. “Our students on this team are taking on this event as an extra responsibility to their already busy lives. They are studying and practicing in addition to their classes, jobs and family responsibilities.”

This year’s team is the smallest that Hatfield can remember sending to the event with only 15 members. Additionally, most of the team is comprised of newcomers to the event, as only four of the 15 have competed previously.  “This is a team that is dedicated and really hungry for a good showing,” said Hatfield. “We have five people competing in five events each, which is the most we’ve ever had compete for the Superstar title.”
Team members include:
Kyle McMichen of Hiram
Hunter Martin of Marietta
Christopher Barrett of Kennesaw
Sylvia Ramee of Marietta
Shapour Pabaz of Marietta
Paula Devane of Calhoun
Amy Kropacek of Marietta
Jim Humphreys of Euharlee
Jillian Humphreys of Euharlee
Robert Davis of Woodstock
Corey Cantlon of Dallas Zarah
Parker of Kennesaw
Elizabeth Lange of Marietta
Maureen Gammons of Newnan
Brad Nersesian of Peachtree City
Student Career Days is an annual three-day event designed to help build careers for college horticulture students in the green industries. Students from more than 60 universities and colleges from across the country compete in events that are directly related to the skills necessary for a career in the green industry, including irrigation assembly, construction cost estimating, wood construction, sales presentation, landscape lighting and various types of plant identification. They also participate in a career fair and networking events.
According to Environmental Technology Instructor Bejie Herrin, each of the students selected through a competitive process for their top choices in the 28 competitive events.
“Landscape installation tends to draw the largest crowd because it is the last event of the day and has no other competition against it,” Herrin explained. “Many of our students also want to be a part of the identification events and equipment operation events.”
For more than 20 years, the team has finished in the top ten in the nation. Most recently the team won first place honors in 2008 and 2010. Last year Chattahoochee Technical College’s team finished in sixth place, scoring a combined 3850.19 points. Along with the school’s sixth place award, the team had 15 individual and small teams finish in the top ten, including three first place finishers.