Dave Richards: ONLA president is dedicated to the green industry

As a school teacher, Dave Richards could have spent Aug. 8, 2013 enjoying his time off in air-conditioned comfort. Instead, he was sweltering outside on Ohio State ATI’s campus as he acted as timekeeper and announcer for the Certified Landscape Technician (CLT) test.  Dave, a 1981 graduate of Ohio State ATI, is a firm believer in the CLT program.  “It’s important that we test people’s mastery of skills and their ability to complete tasks safely,” explained Dave. “Landscapers who are certified won’t do it slipshod.” Dave took the test himself in 2007 and is the first high school teacher in the U.S. to become a CLT.

Dave graduated from ATI’s nursery program, which was coordinated by Ken Cochran. Dave is currently the landscape horticulture instructor at Auburn Career Center, Concord Twp., OH, where he has been since 1996.

Dave figures that over the years, he's referred 20 to 25 students to Ohio State ATI. “When I was in the industry and hiring college grads, I would always look at an ATI grad more favorably, because of the real work experience. They know how to apply academic information on the job and solve problems,” Dave said.

Prior to teaching, Dave served as product manager for nine years at Lake County Nursery Inc., encompassing about 700 acres, where he says he was in charge of "everything but sales." He supervised 125 people every day, and that experience is what has made him appreciate the kind of education Ohio State ATI students get -- they are ready "out of the box" with practical skills. He and his wife also own a small (6-acre) nursery.
Dave is serving as president of the Ohio Nursery and Landscape Association, one of the industry organizations that sponsors the Certified Landscape Technician testing program. He has since returned annually to volunteer as timekeeper and “the voice of CLT” since 2008. As president, Dave will preside at all meetings of the corporation and as a member of the board of directors will serve as chairperson of the Board. “It’s an honor to serve an industry I strongly believe in.”