Students Stories: Hard work pays off on mats, in field for landscape major

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Jonathan Gingrich originally came to Penn State to wrestle, but found another passion -- landscape contracting -- along the way.

The story of how he ended up at the University includes a few unexpected twists, including how he became a starter for Penn State's four-time national champion wrestling team.

"I originally was going to play football at Bucknell, but the coach left and my scholarship fell through," said the Wingate native. "So I made the decision to come to Penn State to wrestle instead."

According to Gingrich, nothing good comes easily. He had to work hard when he joined the team as a walk-on. Thanks to his determination, in 2014 he went to the Big Ten and national championship tournaments, where Penn State took the titles.

Choosing a major also was a challenge for Gingrich. After his freshman year at Penn State, he started working with a local landscaping company because he needed a summer job.

"I enjoyed seeing the dramatic change we could make on a landscape," he said. "The work inspired me to find out what I could do with my experience."

Gingrich discovered the design/build option for the landscape contracting major in the College of Agricultural Sciences, and after speaking to an adviser, he knew he would be able to expand the knowledge he gained from his job.

When it comes to balancing school and sports, Gingrich gives credit to his professors and coaches. "They understand I came to Penn State to get an education," he said.

"My professors make sure I'm getting the most out of learning from them, and my coaches work around my schedule so I still can practice and focus on my classes. It's been a huge help."

Most importantly, Gingrich advises other students to be "constant learners" and to enjoy life. The hard work pays off, he noted, just as it did for the wrestling team.

"Being able to walk up on the raised mat in the center of the arena and hear the loud cheering of our fans -- 'We are!' … 'Penn State!' -- is a moment I will never forget."

Learn more about the landscape contracting major.

 

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Last Updated October 29, 2014