Josh Kiecker(left), who with wife Sarah owns and operates Sculptured Earth Design & Building Landscaping, Delano, hasn’t forgotten where his career began. It started when the Cosmos native graduated from Central Lakes College in 2001, earning a Landscape Technology diploma through the Horticulture program on the Brainerd campus. “It was a great education, giving me the fundamental skills to get started in this business,” he said, giving current CLC students some insight and whatever advice they seek from one who has grown from laborer to foreman to business owner. Josh and Sarah also gave $500 to Tim Drury (right), Akeley, as the 2012 scholarship winner of their landscaping award. Tim had prepared a design for the Kieckers, as well as an essay relating his professional goals and qualities worthy of a successful career in landscaping.Drury, a 2008 Nevis High School graduate, works with his father Bill in serving the clients of Sunshine Lawn Care, Akeley, which has been growing for 17 years in the Walker area.
“I came to Central Lakes College to build on my knowledge from scratching the surface of this profession,” Tim said. “I graduate this spring with a broader understanding of it all.”
Josh said he hadn’t planned to own a landscaping business when he graduated from CLC. “I valued my time at CLC, and it prepared me as a foreman,” he said. “The more designing I did and the more customer relations skills and experience I got, it sort of evolved.”
Now in their fifth year as business owners, the Kieckers have brought their respective skills to the operation, as Josh designs and follows each project to completion and Sarah handles payroll, pays bills, and applies her business administration degree aptitude to keep things in the black.
This is the third year for the scholarship, which reflects the respect Josh and Sarah have for not only the CLC Landscape Technology program but also the forthcoming graduates. “We enjoy getting student feedback on their goals in this industry, and their ideas presented through the design contest,” said Josh.
Two other students had impressive designs as well, he said. “They all were good. Design is a subjective thing, and in looking at the entries I studied how each student indicated the path fo accomplish design goals, resolving issues that were important. Tim’s was the most aesthetically pleasing with a good, animated explanation of the design.”
The students vying for the scholarship this year worked off a site plan provided by Josh, one which it turned out was property the Kieckers had purchased and which included a drainage issue. “It was a foreclosure buy, just basically out in a hay field,” Sarah said.
The couple spent a day at CLC, providing each student in Advanced Landscape Design with plenty of positive feedback and encouragement. And for Tim Drury, a well-deserved and much-appreciated $500 check.