Kurt Cottrell

February 14, 2022

ICC Class of 2015 (Horticulture – Landscape Management and Turfgrass Management)

President, Shareholder and Design/Sales at Brookside Landscapes Inc.

Tell us about the career path that led you to your current job.

I was attending ICC as a freshman in the engineering department, intending to transfer to Bradley to complete a bachelors in Mechanical Engineering, and working in the student-trainee program at Caterpillar. I was not enjoying the technical nature of the engineering program and was having a hard time seeing myself in a career as an engineer at a large corporation. About that time, I started searching and praying about where God wanted me to be in my long-term career path, and my uncle, who was the previous owner of Brookside, approached me about coming back to work for him in the design department. This appealed greatly to my more creative side and desire to spend more time working outdoors!

That summer, I went back to work for him and switched my major to Horticulture. From then on, I have spent a lot of time working and training with our senior designer, who has a bachelor’s in landscape architecture from the U of I. I continued to grow in my role in design/sales, and in 2018, my uncle approached a group of us employees about the opportunity to take over ownership of the business. That sale became final January 1 of 2019, and since then my role has continued to evolve as we have been blessed with growth, and management of the company continues to require more of my time.

How did ICC shape your future or help you attain your professional goals?

My education at ICC gave me a great base knowledge in plant biology and identification, as well as a myriad of other things such as pests, diseases, and plant care. Many of these things are difficult to learn in on-the-job experience and have given me a leg up in my career that is invaluable.

What advice would you give current students at ICC to succeed?

Take your education seriously. Focus on learning marketable skills. Especially in today’s job market, companies do not care as much about your degree as they do about your skills and what you can bring to the table.