Home Sponsored Boys & Girls Club, Jackson Yard Care team up for landscaping camp

Boys & Girls Club, Jackson Yard Care team up for landscaping camp

Stephanie Johnston of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County (left) and Jackon's Yard Care CEO Action Jackson (right) celebrate graduation from landscaping camp. Photo by Omar Waheed.

While summer is usually a time for students to decompress, a group of local Madison high schoolers got to work, setting out to learn the ins and outs of landscaping.

Four Madison high schoolers with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC) spent a week learning from Action Jackson, CEO of Jackson’s Yard Care, 922 S Bird St., Sun Prairie. The students made rounds in a miniature version of Jackson’s Yard Care workforce development program where they received hands-on training with tools, safety, behind the scenes aspects and what it takes to work in landscaping. The weeklong training is a component of the BGCDC’s youth workforce development programs in trades and Jackson’s push to provide high quality instruction in landscaping.

From June 17-21, the four students worked through the training and shadowed Jackson’s Yard Care’s employees on jobs to learn more about yard care. Students revolved around training for proper usage of heavy machinery, and safety, an aspect Jackson pushes heavily with employees. The students also visited a farm and landscape supplier.

“Coming into this, I didn’t really know what machinery was needed for landscaping,” said Marco, a recent graduate of West High School. “Seeing everything that was involved in landscaping was cool because you could see all the machines that were used. It’s like just one big project that continuously keeps growing.”

Marco came into the program with the intention to start his own landscaping business with his friend. The training from Jackson’s Yard Care equipped him with not only the know-how in the work, but Jackson offered Reyes to come back to keep learning as he pursues starting his own business.

David, a virtual student at East High School, enjoys working with his hands. His father encourages him to never stop learning, so he put the two together to get experience in landscaping.

Reaching the community for quality training has been Jackon’s mission. He’s excited to see interest from youth in the landscaping field as he pushes to build up the industry’s workforce.

Action Jackson addresses landcaping camp graduates. Photo by Omar Waheed.

“I was optimistic, and I was really excited to do it, and as the time was going on, it was really rewarding to see the smiles on the kids’ faces throughout the days,” Jackson said. “It’s my job to make sure that you guys learn in a fun way and be captivated about what I enjoy so much. Listening to you guys really warms my heart because that’s exactly what I wanted to do.”

The Boys and Girls Club has been working to bring more students into the trades and Jackson is trying to make landscaping seen as an essential industry in the trades. The two came together with a plan to offer hands-on learning, much like BGCDC has done with its two pre-apprenticeship cohorts so far, along with other summer camp opportunities, to give a true sense of a career in the trades.

Jackson worked the students into current jobs with employees after instructional learning portions on safety and equipment use. Students like Reyes and Henning were surprised with the level of work and planning that goes into it. The hands-on, experiential learning on job sites worked to give students a stronger sense of what quality landscaping really looks like instead of keeping it abstract.