Agricultural Sciences scholarship awarded to student at New Kensington

UPPER BURRELL, Pa. — Ryan Kieffer, a freshman landscape contracting major at Penn State New Kensington, recently was awarded a scholarship by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

Kieffer, who runs his own landscaping business, earned a Barbara U. and Daniel J. Eichenlaub Trustee Scholarship. Established last year by Penn State alumnus Daniel Eichenlaub and his wife, Barbara, the scholarship helps the college support talented students. The Eichenlaubs geared their scholarship to first-year Ag Sciences students.

A reception in October at the University Park campus honored all Ag scholarship recipients, who met their benefactors in person. With one of the largest scholarship endowments at Penn State, Agricultural Sciences gives out nearly $2.5 million in scholarship support each year. Kieffer was seated at the table with Daniel Eichenlaub.

“I sat next to Mr. Eichenlaub, and he was extremely informative the whole night, pointing out all the ‘big wigs’ in the room” said Kieffer, whose table was front and center in the room. “I felt a connection with Mr. Eichenlaub due to the fact that we are both landscapers. Granted, his business towers over mine, but he was very interested in what I do and how my business is going.”

Eichenlaub is president and co-founder of Eichenlaub Inc., a full-service, design-build landscape construction and maintenance company that has served the greater Pittsburgh area for more than 40 years. He delivered the commencement address to Ag Sciences graduates in May at University Park.

In addition to sitting next to Eichenlaub, Kieffer was a couple of seats away from Provost Nick Jones. The proximity didn’t allow much conversation with the provost during dinner, but it picked up afterwards.

“Provost Jones took the time to congratulate me on my scholarship, and we struck up conversation right away,” Kieffer said. “He was very interested in my business and my schooling. He is an extremely kind and considerate gentleman, and it was great to talk to him.”

Kieffer Landscaping
A native of Plum, Pennsylvania, Kieffer owns Kieffer Landscaping, which he started while in Plum High School. The company offers many services, including hardscaping, which refers to working with masonry materials such as concrete, brick and stone. Kieffer prepared for a career in landscaping at a young age.

“I spent my days on our old tractor, trying to make our yard look perfect,” Kieffer said. “My passion continued in high school, so I started my own landscaping business.”

As his customer base grew, his knowledge about his line of work grew as well. To quench his landscaping thirst, Kieffer’s mother pointed him to college. Penn State offered the program he needed to complement his business.

“It was during my high school years that my mom was trying to help me find a major that would best suit me,” Kieffer said. “When I saw the Landscape Contracting program at Penn State, I knew it was the perfect fit for me.”

Although the New Kensington campus does not offer the landscape contracting major, its 2 + 2 program allows Kieffer to fulfill his general education requirements before moving on to the University Park campus to complete his bachelor’s degree studies. New Kensington’s learning environment helps Kieffer keep up with his studies and on top of his company.

“Penn State New Kensington offers smaller class sizes, and that appealed to my learning style,” Kieffer said. “I commute and it is close to home, which I really like. I could have gone to a community college, but I wanted to go to New Kensington because of the prestigious level of education.”

The Ag College scholarship was not the only scholarship Kieffer received. The New Kensington campus awarded him a Hazel L. Hug scholarship. The campus also holds a reception for scholarship recipients and donors in the fall.

Kieffer is already mapping out his landscaping plans after he earns his degree in 2019. He wants to expand his business and would be willing to learn more under the tutelage of a master landscaper, such as Daniel Eichenlaub.

“My ultimate goal is to own a large scale, full-service landscaping company,” Kieffer said. “I would be willing to work with a reputable landscaping business to learn more about the business aspect.”

For more about the 2+2 program at the New Kensington campus, visit


Bill Woodard

Work Phone: 
Home Phone: 
Cell Phone: 

Alumni and Public Relations Specialist

Last Updated December 21, 2015