Drawing the Next Generation into the Business By Tim Hodson

I was surfing the Net recently to see what was going on in the world when I came across an item about a computer game that “teaches genetics in the greenhouse.”

I clicked on the item to learn about the game Plant Tycoon, a computer simulation where participants “nurture plants and experiment with increasingly rare and valuable species.”

According to the game’s Web site, “You start with a couple of dollars, a handful of seeds, some soil and water. Grow plants, organize and harvest seeds, monitor your plants’ health, age and maturity, and protect your plants from dehydration and infestations.”

Players can then sell some of their plants to fund research, buy better supplies to use in their growing operation and purchase ornaments to customize their virtual garden.

Does that sound familiar to you? Isn’t that a description of what you do every day in your greenhouse?

While I have yet to play the game, it does sound like a pretty interesting way to pique the interest of children and get them involved in gardening and horticulture.

You can check out the game on the Web at www.planttycoon.com.

The Next Generation

Games like Plant Tycoon are one way to get kids interested in gardening and maybe even a career in horticulture. Another way to draw younger people to the field is through OFA’s Generation Next.

Generation Next strives to inspire, motivate and mentor young industry members about the benefits the industry and OFA have to offer them. OFA’s Generation Next committee wants to help young growers develop the skills they will need to become future industry leaders.

Generation Next offers special sessions at Short Course each July to help the next generation of floriculture professionals learn the skills they will need to be successful in this industry.

OFA’s Generation Next committee also has a Scholars Program that gives students an opportunity to attend Short Course. While in Columbus, Ohio, students spend five days assisting the committee with different OFA events and educational sessions; they get to experience the trade show and technical programs, and they can network at various social events such as Unplugged.

This was the second year for Unplugged during Short Course, and its popularity continues to grow. Unplugged is a great networking event for young industry professionals to meet up in a casual atmosphere while enjoying live music.

The Generation Next committee will be meeting later this month to discuss plans for 2008. For more information on taking part in Generation Next activities, contact OFA at (614) 487-1117 or visit www.ofa.org.

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