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Seth’s Cut: Readers share stories of their journey in the green industry

May 5, 2021 -  By
Seth Jones celebrates his birthday with his nephew Jett. (Photo: Jessica Johnson)

Seth Jones celebrates his birthday with his nephew Jett. (Photo: Jessica Johnson)

Two graduation invitations arrived in my mailbox today. They are for two great kids, and of course, both graduations happen on the same day, at the same time, 45 miles apart from one another.

The one I’ll attend is for my one and only nephew Jett, whom I’ve written about here before. He’s a hard worker, and when COVID-19 cost him his cool guy job as a lifeguard at the city pool, he started up his own lawn mowing operation. He’s a senior in high school currently, and his next stop is the University of Kansas (KU). I couldn’t be prouder, especially since both his mom and I went to school there.

For my birthday, Jett and my sister came over to help me celebrate. The topic of conversation quickly turned to Jett’s future and what he was thinking of studying at KU. Like many kids his age, he doesn’t know exactly what he wants to do or the degree he wants to pursue. He just knows the sticker shock of how much it’s going to cost to park on campus from month to month. Still, it’s an exciting time for him as he gets ready for this next journey.

“The journey” could be a theme for this month’s issue of LM. There are several stories about the journeys people made when they were young that eventually led them to this industry. For some, as Amber Fox, director of human resources for Grunder Landscaping Co., put it, the industry found her. For others, they knew since they were old enough to sit behind the steering wheel and play pretend that this industry was their future.

A textbook example of the latter is highlighted on page 54, where I sit down with John Jr. and Bill Caramanico. The company they co-own, C. Caramanico & Sons, is a fourth-generation family-owned company started by their great-grandpa Carmine in 1946. Both John Jr. and Bill knew since they were little that one day they would carry on their namesake company. The green industry is practically in their DNA.

In We made it and so can you, Editor Christina Herrick tells the stories of four successful women in the green industry and the journeys they took, the lessons they’ve learned along the way, to get where they are today. In Opportunity knocks, Herrick and Managing Editor Sarah Webb write on the topic of the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program. That story focuses on a program lawn care and landscaping companies can embrace to guide people to a rewarding career in the green industry.

I told Jett as he mulled different careers, different areas of study, that the key was just to work hard on his grades and he’d know it when his journey leads him to the right path. It might not happen in his first semester or even his last. A source recently told me about the “$9,000 knife set” his parents say they bought him — the cost of a one-and-done year in culinary school before exiting for the green industry. But all’s well that ends well, he said, because he found an industry he’s passionate about.

There’s no telling if Jett’s journey will be a straight line or if it will be winding, maybe even with a detour or two along the way, but as long as he finds something he’s passionate about — like the professionals profiled in this issue have done — then the journey will be well worth it.

This article is tagged with , and posted in 0521, Editor's Note, From the Magazine
Seth Jones

About the Author:

Seth Jones, a graduate of Kansas University’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was voted best columnist in the industry in 2014 and 2018 by the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. Seth has more than 19 years of experience in the golf and turf industries and has traveled the world seeking great stories. He is editor-in-chief of Landscape Management, Golfdom and Athletic Turf magazines. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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