Pride runs deep among Florida's nursery and landscape industry professionals. Getting the job done right isn't just a goal --- it's the only way to travel for many certified professionals who stake their professional reputations on their skills and attention to detail.
On any given day, the pros are putting their skills to the test (and, serving the future of the industry) by volunteering to judge the hands-on portions of FNGLA certification exams.
Paul Sykora, general superintendent for BrightView Landscape Development, based in Orlando, has been an FNGLA Certified Landscape Contractor for more than 20 years – and has been judging FNGLA’s landscape exams for nearly that long. He notes several reasons for serving as a judge.
“I’m an operations guy, so I like to mentor and train the new generation of landscapers who will be the future of this industry,” says Sykora. “I love to teach and see forward progress with the young kids who are signing up to test.”
FNGLA hosts eight certification exams each year -- all of which greatly rely upon volunteer judges willing to give a day of their time to judge a variety of exam stations.
Volunteers proctor plant identification exams, grade applicants in proper tree installation or score skills in the safe operation of equipment. In turn, judges earn continuing education units (CEUs) toward their own certification renewals.
Sykora says he uses the CEUs he earns from judging to maintain his FNGLA Certified Landscape Contractor designation. “Our company uses my FCLC credentials to bid work requiring the FCLC contractor’s certification," he says.
Sykora adds that BrightView likes to have certified FNGLA professionals in-house because it raises the bar for quality installs.
“I think every company should invest in their teams to have the certifications,” he says. “It’s a win-win for everyone and it looks great on your resumé.”
Contact Merry Mott if you are interested in judging an upcoming exam.