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Alum Shannon Sked Is Entrepreneurial
Force in Green Landscaping


6/21/10


West Windsor, N.J. - Informing the public about the benefits of going green has long been a mission of Shannon Sked, who graduated from MCCC in 1997 with dual degrees in Biology and Plant Science. As sole proprietor of AgServe Land Management in Bordentown, N.J., he provides consulting services to an array of clients, many of whom seek eco-friendly, sustainable options for the care of their lawns and landscapes. His job runs the gamut from designing blueprints, to providing marketing and accounting analysis, to service delivery.

"I'm a one-man show," he proudly admits.

Sked relishes the opportunity to be a local force in the green movement. Growing up in rural Bethlehem, Pa., he worked on a farm, where he gained an understanding and appreciation for agronomy, which involves all phases of plant growth and health. Attending Mercer County Community College after moving to New Jersey, he soon discovered his calling.

Shannon Sked '97

Sked recalls that MCCC faculty member Eileen Boyle, the former coordinator for Ornamental Horticulture, saw his potential right away. "She told me I had a future with trees and plants. I knew from that point on I would spend the rest of my life working in the industry. I have not regretted it."

Noting that he was not a strong student in high school, Sked came to embrace education. "MCCC gave me the second chance I needed; it was up to me to take hold of it. I realized there was much more to agronomy and horticulture and I was hooked."

Sked says he also gained confidence that led to future achievements. "Coming from modest means, I am the first from my family to graduate from college. My experiences at MCCC and beyond have demonstrated that anyone can make a difference with a lot of dedication, hard work and drive."

After graduating from Mercer, Sked went on to earn a bachelor's degree in Natural Resource Management from Rutgers University, a master's degree with honors in Entomology from Penn State University, and certifications from the University of Georgia, Plant LandCare Network, and the Entomological Society of America. Both his undergraduate and graduate research on the cross benefits of sustainability and cost efficiency have been published in scholarly journals.

Now as a sustainable landscape entrepreneur, Sked says his biggest challenges are overcoming the negative reputation of a once pesticide-laden industry and educating customers about the long-term cost-effectiveness of going green. "Most people want to feel good about it, but they don't necessarily see the value of dollars spent until they take the plunge and just try it," he said.

In addition to his consulting business, Sked serves as a branch manager for ValleyCrest Landscape, the largest privately-owned commercial landscape and lawn services company internationally. He has also worked as a civil scientist and instructor for the Department of the Navy, overseeing pest control and horticultural programs on naval and marine bases. He is driven to continue to promote sustainability and one day make AgServe a household name.

Sked is optimistic about job prospects for Mercer's current students in the multi-faceted landscape industry. "Find the next new thing," he advises. "Dreams all start with a simple idea. Hold on to your idea, develop it, and show how that idea can benefit people. Make your dream reality."

Visit the AgServe Land Management Website here.

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