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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Sikeston graduate competes for national honors in FFA for Landscape Management

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Landscaping manager Cody Ryan checks some plants at Maingate Condominums.
SIKESTON ? Rain clouds loomed over his head Thursday afternoon ? but there was no rain, and Cody Ryan was determined to do his job.

So the 18-year-old landscaping manager at Maingate Condominiums in Sikeston proceeded to mow the giant piece of land.

As landscaping manager, Ryan mows, plants and basically takes care of everything that has to do with the outside.

?I come in and go around to see what needs to be done and see anything else that needs to be done like pulling weeds and working on the irrigation,? Ryan said.

Since the summer of his freshman year in high school, Ryan has worked in the landscaping business. It started when, as a favor, he began working for his cousin who owned a nursery and landscaping business located outside of town.

?And then he sold the nursery and the new owners asked me if I wanted to help them. And I worked with them for the summer then their business moved,? said the recent Sikeston Senior High School graduate.

When that happened, Ryan enlisted the help of his cousin to get his own landscaping and yard business going.

?He helped me find a mower and my grandma loaned me money to get the mower. I put some ads in the newspaper and got some business, mowing and doing landscaping in the summers,? recalled Ryan, who is the son of Tom and Laurie Ryan.

Since his junior and senior years, Ryan has run his business year-round out of his parents? garage.

?My relatives pretty much taught me everything I know ? the names of plants and how to design ? and I learned further from working out of the other nursery, and I also had landscaping classes in school,? Ryan said.

Throughout the start of his business, Ryan became involved in his school?s FFA chapter.

?Cody got in FFA last year and kind of went from walking to running. He was the vice president and he won a scholarship. He?s a well-rounded student and one of, if not the best, workers we?ve ever had,? said one of Ryan?s FFA advisers, Lincoln Scherer.

In April, Ryan competed at the 77th Missouri FFA Convention held in Columbia, where he was named the state winner of the Landscape Management Proficiency Award. Ryan received a plaque, a certificate and $100 for his accomplishment.

?I believe it?s the first time Sikeston has had a state proficiency winner,? said Scherer, adding he hopes Ryan?s success will trigger a higher membership for the school?s FFA chapter.

Proficiency awards recognize FFA members who excel as agricultural entrepreneurs, employees or volunteers while gaining hands-on career experience. Landscape Management is one of 51 proficiency awards presented at the state level. The Missouri Landscape and Nursery Association sponsor this award.

Winning state means Ryan will compete at the national level in October at Louisville, Ky.

?He?s already in the top 25, and if he is named the national winner that means of the 476,000 students who are in FFA, he?d be the top one,? Scherer said. ?It?s an accomplishment to get to state, and now he?s going to nationals.?

The national competition process is similar to that at the state level, Ryan said.

?You fill out an application, and write down all of your profits and all of the equipment you have and then send into the board. They judge based on money making and how much you?re worth, and you don?t know if you?ve won until you go there,? Ryan said.

As an FFA member, Ryan also participated in the Farmers Appreciation Banquet, the FFA fishing trip and the state Cardinals? Ag Days. Outside of FFA, Ryan played indoor soccer and wrestled on the varsity team. He was also on Honor Roll at his high school and is currently a Community Betterment volunteer.

Ryan runs his business year-round; however he recently turned his mower over to his dad who previously owned a grocery store in Parma.

But Ryan assured he will continue his business when he comes home on breaks from the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he plans to attend in the fall. He hopes to major in physical therapy and work with injured athletes in the future.

But for now Ryan said he will enjoy the summer, working in Sikeston.

?I?d rather be outside any day than sitting inside,? Ryan paused. ?Plus it?s a nice way to work on my sun tan and stay in shape.?