Management — Research, education and employer resources
It’s already April, which means that production is in full swing again. With customers bustling to make their purchases for spring plantings, and Mother’s Day right around the corner, you may not feel like you have time to catch your breath, let alone stop to seek help for some of the problems you may be facing.
The American Floral Endowment (AFE) offers a wealth of free resources for growers, so you can easily find information to help you solve production problems, recruit labor, market your products and ultimately sell beautiful plants that make your customers want to come back for more.
AFE staff and board members actively engage in conversations with growers and industry professionals to identify the important issues that you’re facing today. Through innovative research and resources that best serve the dynamic needs and demographics of all industry sectors, our initiatives have transformed industry practices and resulted in cost and labor savings, better plants and increased profit for over 60 years.
EDUCATION FOR YOUR TEAM ON TOP-OF-MIND CHALLENGES
Now in its third year, our monthly Grow Pro webinars are one of the best ways to learn new information from leading experts and researchers across the continent. These webinars provide practical recommendations and “how to” advice — without any unfamiliar technical jargon — on a wide variety of topics to help you navigate through your ever-changing growing challenges. The topics discussed are current and offer long-term solutions so you can focus on increased profit, greater sustainability and improved labor efficiency. Ninety percent of attendees say they can use the information they learned from the webinars immediately. Topics for the upcoming year include advances in LED lighting, fertilizer and nutrition recommendations, growing media info, post-harvest and handling recommendations, sanitation, whitefly control on poinsettia, and more.
Our webinars take place once a month on a Tuesday and are usually 30 to 40 minutes in length, followed by a question-and-answer period with the experts, where you can directly ask any questions you have and discuss issues you might be facing. To register for our 2023 webinars, visit endowment.org/growpro. Registration is free, as is access to the recordings of all our previous Grow Pro webinars, which are available on our YouTube channel. Check it out and subscribe if you haven’t yet at youtube.com/endowmentorg.
Is there something we haven’t covered that you’d like to see? Please let us know. At AFE, we are continually seeking input from growers to make sure we’re providing the most relevant resources with information you can put to use right away.
Another free resource we provide for growers is our Growing Further newsletter. This quarterly electronic publication gives you the latest updates and results from AFE-funded research projects, links to helpful resources and timely articles from industry publications, Grow Pro webinar registration links, and special updates from AFE research director Terril Nell, Ph.D., and me, the research coordinator.
To receive the Growing Further newsletter, visit endowment.org and the “Subscribe to AFE Communications” section on the home page.
NEW ADVANCES IN THRIPS AND BOTRYTIS MANAGEMENT
While AFE-funded research addresses numerous pest and disease issues, we know that thrips and botrytis continue to be two of the most serious and damaging problems that growers face. To help you with the challenges surrounding thrips and botrytis management, we established a special Thrips and Botrytis Research Campaign in 2017. Through the contributions of 24 industry leaders and organizations, we raised $1.5 million in 2019 to support new and innovative research to help you address these challenges. With those funds, we have supported 14 multi-year research projects (with more on the way) and created educational resources.
We recently released a series of webinars and key takeaways to the industry in both English and Spanish, available on our website and YouTube channel. This year, more new information from this campaign will be released — stay tuned (or sign up for our newsletters) for more information. You’ll want to share this information company wide.
RESOURCES AND MATERIALS TO HELP YOU RECRUIT TOP TALENT
One of the most important ways that AFE helps the industry is by supporting students and young industry professionals through scholarships, internships, educational grants, the AFE career center, and our Young Professionals Council. We also provide resources to help you recruit new talent to your business.
If your organization has internship opportunities, or is interested in starting an internship program, we would love to work with you. Our Vic and Margaret Ball Intern Scholarship Program gives students the opportunity to gain practical floriculture/horticulture experience while training at a commercial production greenhouse or nursery. Our Mosmiller Scholarship Intern Program interns train at a leading retail, wholesale or allied trade operation. These programs include a paid internship, along with a scholarship upon successful completion of the internship. Learn more about our internship programs, and how to host an intern, at endowment.org/internships.
We also understand that creating help wanted ads and job descriptions can be tedious, time-consuming, and difficult, especially when production is in full swing. As part of the AFE Career Center, we’ve done the preliminary work for you and provided customizable recruitment resources and templates for all segments of the floriculture industry to help you streamline some of the work that goes into the employee search. You can find these templates at endowment.org/recruitment-resources. You can expand your reach further by uploading your job opportunity to the AFE Career Center (AFECareerCenter.com).
SUSTAINABILITY RESOURCES THROUGH NEW PROJECTS
Consumers are driving the demand for more sustainable products and business practices. You’ve probably already encountered this in your business. In the past five years, sustainability messages, products and practices have multiplied exponentially in our industry, both in large and small operations across the country. AFE recognizes this, and in 2022, we enlisted the help of two leading researchers, Melinda Knuth, Ph.D, and Brian Jackson, Ph.D, from North Carolina State University, to work with us on a new Sustainability Project. This initiative will directly help growers, suppliers, retailers, and everyone in between to advance their businesses and learn about some of the most successful practices that are being implemented. Partnering with like-minded organizations, this project aims to create usable assets, identify areas for new research and close the gap in making sustainability an accessible initiative for all segments of the industry. Visit endowment.org/sustainability to read more about this initiative, how it will benefit you and the major industry partners joining us.
We also want to hear from you — what are your challenges, successes and thoughts regarding sustainability? We invite you to participate in a short five-minute survey at bit.ly/AFEsustainability.
AFE’s vision statement is to create “a strong, unified floriculture community fostering industry innovation and growth to better connect people to flowers and plants in everyday life.” This isn’t something we do on our own — we need you to join us in creating a stronger, more profitable industry for everyone. You can help us directly impact the industry in a number of ways.
Sign up to be a host for interns, who will learn from you, put that knowledge to use and potentially become future employees.
Post any job openings on the Career Center, reaching a broader audience of job seekers.
Follow us on social media and share our posts on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and, now, TikTok. You can learn about our latest resources, initiatives, events, and news and quickly share them with anyone who can benefit from the information.
Consider becoming a Partner of AFE by making a tax-deductible donation to help us continue benefiting growers through our research and resources.
Lastly, simply let us know how we can help you. Do you have questions about our research and resources, and how you can put them to use in your operation? Or, are you interested in getting more involved with these programs? We are always happy to speak with you and help provide answers and practical solutions to any of your questions.
For an enhanced reading experience, view this article in our digital edition by clicking here.