Seed Your Future Targets Higher Ed, Vocational Tech Students for Hort Jobs
Twenty-two members of Seed Your Future’s leadership, representing horticulture sectors from across the country, met to develop new ways to attract and engage a new generation of horticulture and floriculture professionals.
The group’s annual planning meeting took place in-person March 22-24 at the University of Georgia, according to a news release from Seed Your Future.
Reaching college, university, and vocational-technical students emerged as a key strategy for driving interest in careers in the green industries. This approach would complement the existing five-year partnership with Scholastic, which funnels the plant curriculum and the Plant Mash-Up contest to middle school science teachers. Seed Your Future targets middle schoolers because research shows that’s the age when students begin to think about career choices.
“While we will always target middle-schoolers to create the long-term pipeline of future professionals, we also want to focus on our relationship and collaboration with colleges and universities and vocational-technical schools,” said Jazmin Albarran, executive director of Seed Your Future. “We can reach students when they’re exploring what they want to do after their schooling, or perhaps are considering changing their area of focus.”
Seed Your Future’s leadership also met with University of Georgia staff to evaluate the industry and determine how they can further support each other and the horticulture field.
Together, and with the help of horticulture students, the group identified several avenues to increase students’ exposure to careers in the horticulture field — and spread the word about Seed Your Future.
For instance, after learning that 55% of UGA graduates transferred to the horticulture department from another department, Seed Your Future leadership agreed that they should work with universities to develop ways to connect with students of undeclared majors and in majors such as psychology, chemistry, and technology.
Seed Your Future leadership saw a horticulture department in action when they visited the university’s student-run farm, UGArden and its horticulture Trial Gardens. The farm provides the opportunity for students and faculty to learn about sustainable food production. The trial gardens are where prominent plant breeders test their products to find those that stand up to southeastern heat and humidity.
Above, Seed Your Future volunteers with UGA staff at the group’s 2022 annual meeting. In the front row are Broch Martindale, Corteva Agriscience; Abel Guzman, The Wonderful Company; Ronda Hamm, Corteva Agriscience; John Rutter, UGA; Jessica Ballard-Swartz, Chicago Botanic Garden; Jacob Horn, Seed Your Future; Anna Ball, Ball Horticultural Company; Joseph Simone, Ednie Flower Bulbs, Inc.; Chad Follis, Hummert International; Jazmin Albarran, Seed Your Future; Nora MacDonald, American Horticultural Society; Kate Penn, Society of American Florists. In the back are Jessica Turner-Skoff, Morton Arboretum; Lisa Smith, Mariani Landscape; Rebekah Maynard, UGA Graduate Student; Terri McEnaney, Bailey Nurseries; Charlie Hall, Texas A&M University; Jenna Gizerskiy, Rosaprima; Karla Kares, JR Peters Kimberley Lough, Sugg Middle School; Broc Sandelin, Delaware Valley University; Sarah Masterton, Longwood Gardens; Kate Santos, Longwood Gardens; Leo Lombardini, UGA; Jeff Gibson, Ball Horticultural Company; Julie Campbell, UGA. Photo: Seed Your Future