Blank sign in a glasshouseAFE awarded seventeen students in 2015 with scholarships totaling more than $37,000.

“The quality of the applicants this year was outstanding, and we only wish we could help even more young people as they begin their rewarding careers. These deserving students show great promise and will be strong assets to the industry,” AFE Chairman-Elect and Education Committee Chairman Dwight Larimer said.

More than 75 applications were received for this scholarship cycle, down just a few from last year.

AFE awards scholarships annually, and applications are due by May 1 of each year.


American Florists’ Exchange Scholarship – $2,400
Recipient: Erin Hsu, University of California-Davis

Hsu is a junior studying environmental horticulture with a focus on floriculture, and wants to become a floral designer and possibly a plant breeder. “I hope to contribute to the industry with a new variety of flower, or with the discovery of more efficient methods of propagation,” she said.

The Original Los Angeles Flower Market was established in 1921 and is now part of the largest wholesale flower district in the U.S. Eligible recipients are juniors or seniors with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, majoring in agriculture with an emphasis on a future in floriculture. This scholarship is to provide tuition assistance to students attending a college/university in California or student residents of California attending a college/university in other areas of the U.S.

Julio and Sarah Armellini Scholarship – $2,200
Recipient: Maya Baumeister, University of Georgia

Baumeister is a senior horticulture student who is interested in entomology and growing greenhouse ornamental floriculture crops. “I am interested in the marketing aspect of this industry and developing ways to increase sustainable transportation systems to get a quality product to consumers,” she said.

Julio “Toots” Armellini is founder of Armellini Express Lines, the largest flower carrier service in the U.S. Armellini enlisted in the Navy as a “Seabee” and was stationed all around the globe as a mechanic, where he learned the skills he used to modernize refrigerated trucking. When he began expanding his lines in the early 1950s, refrigeration was new and underdeveloped, so he established a more effective way of cooling his supplies using a system of constant airflow. ThermoKing eventually made his contributions to refrigeration systems standard. Today, Armellini has almost 70 years of experience in the industry, and Armellini Industries, Inc. encompasses many businesses: Armellini Express Lines, Inc., J.A. Flower Service, Inc., Fresco Service, Inc. and NorthStar Transportation, Inc. The Julio and Sarah Armellini Scholarship is intended for sophomore, junior or senior students with a career interest in the marketing or distribution of floral products.

Ball Horticultural Company Scholarship – $900
Kelsey Schlegel, Messiah College

A senior majoring in biochemistry, Schlegel’s career goal is to work full-time on her family’s farm in Pennsylvania, managing, growing and expanding the fresh cut flowers and potted plants. “I greatly enjoy growing flowers and plants. I get excited every winter when the time comes to order flower seeds for the spring,” she said. “I believe that farming in a sustainable way is the future of the green movement.”

Ball Horticultural Company is an internationally renowned breeder, producer and wholesale distributor of ornamental plants. A family-owned business since it was founded in 1905, Ball has introduced many innovative, award-winning varieties to the world of horticulture, including the Wave® petunia family and Super Elfin® impatiens. Ball is committed to sustainable practices and has highlighted its green accomplishments in its “Sustainability Report.” The company has worldwide production, sales and marketing through its many subsidiaries on six continents. The Ball Horticultural Company Scholarship is intended for junior or senior students pursuing a career in commercial floriculture.

Keri Livingston Colorado State University Harold Bettinger Scholarship

Keri Livingston
Colorado State University
Harold Bettinger Scholarship

Harold Bettinger Scholarship – $2,000
Recipient: Keri Livingston, Colorado State University

Livingston is pursuing a career in floriculture due to her love of botanical plants and flowers, and is eager to share her knowledge of horticulture with students and children of all ages. “My professional goal is to work for a well-known floriculture nursery. I am interested in developing new and unique cultivars and technologies,” said Livingston.

Harold Bettinger was a partner in Bettinger Farms of Swanton, Ohio. In the mid-’50s, he was one of the first progressive growers to convert his bedding plant production from wooden to plastic flats. Bettinger Farms now grows greenhouse and field vegetables. The Bettinger Scholarship is intended for horticulture students, sophomore through graduate levels, who have a major or minor in business and/or marketing with the intent to apply their education to a horticulture-related career business.

BioWorks IPM/Sustainable Practices Scholarship – $1,200
Recipient: Sara Wallace, Oklahoma State University

Wallace intends to graduate with a degree in public horticulture, and hopes to develop designs with varieties of fruits and vegetables that can be grown in flower beds in every home. “I believe that all people should have fruits, vegetables and herbs growing in their front yard, balcony or hydroponically. I would like food security to extend to all people, regardless of circumstances or geography,” said Wallace.

The BioWorks IPM/Sustainable Practices Scholarship is intended for sophomore, junior or senior students pursuing a career in floriculture. Students will be selected on the basis of sound academic performance and a GPA of 3.0 or higher. While not mandatory, it is strongly desired that the student be interested in furthering the use of integrated pest management (IPM) or sustainable practices, and preference will be given in this area.

Kaitlin Ziesmer Murray State University James Bridenbaugh Memorial Scholarship

Kaitlin Ziesmer
Murray State University
James Bridenbaugh Memorial Scholarship

James Bridenbaugh Memorial Scholarship $500
Recipient: Kaitlin Ziesmer, Murray State University

Ziesmer is a senior and a part-time employee at a floral shop in Kentucky called A Festive Touch. Her goal is to continue working at the florist until she saves up enough money to open her own shop. “I am so motivated and eager to work towards opening up my own full service florist and greenhouse,” she said.

Jim Bridenbaugh was a specialist in fresh flowers and plants, designing and commentating at design shows and seminars. His floral industry knowledge, comedic storytelling and audience rapport made him a favorite. He served as OFA president from 1989 to 1991. The Bridenbaugh Scholarship is for sophomore, junior or senior students who are pursuing a career in floral design and marketing of fresh flowers and plants.

John Carew Memorial Scholarship – $2,000
Recipient: Lesley Judd,
North Carolina State University

Judd is pursuing a Ph.D. in horticultural science with a minor in soil science, and aspires to work at a land-grant university teaching horticulture and researching. “I would like to have both a teaching and research appointment and would also enjoy working with extension. I look forward to continuing to investigate issues with sustainable horticulture to help the industry,” Judd said.

Lesley Judd North Carolina State University John Carew Memorial Scholarship

Lesley Judd
North Carolina State University
John Carew Memorial Scholarship

John Carew, former head of the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University, dedicated his career to encouraging and guiding young horticulturists. He was instrumental in establishing BPI in 1969. The Carew Scholarship is open to graduate students in horticulture with an interest in greenhouse crops.

Carlson-Johnson Scholarship for Nontraditional Students ($1,100) and the Mike and Flo Novovesky Scholarship – $2,400
Melissa Kichler, University of Cincinnati

Kichler, a senior studying horticulture, has the desire to promote sustainable practices, like IPM and green roof technology. “I understand the great need for responsible stewardship of soil and plant material,” she said.

Barbara Carlson and her husband Will were instrumental in the establishment of Bedding Plant International (BPI) trade association, which served hundreds of growers. Fran Johnson enjoyed a long, productive career with the John Henry Co., a horticultural printing firm in Michigan. Johnson also made many significant and practical contributions of time and talent through BPI to advance the greenhouse industry. The Carlson-Johnson Scholarship for Nontraditional Students is awarded to students re-entering school after a minimum five-year absence who have an interest in bedding and/or floral crops.

Mike and Flo Novovesky have enjoyed more than 30 years of active participation in the floriculture industry. The Novoveskys understand the hardships a young couple must overcome when balancing a career and a family. Their scholarship fund aims to help young married students who are working to put themselves through college and have a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Depending on the availability of married applicants, the scholarship may also go to an undergraduate working his or her way through school with financial need and family obligations. The keys are strong interest in horticulture and financial need.

Earl Dedman Memorial Scholarship ($2,000) and the James K. Rathmell, Jr. Memorial Scholarship for Horticultural Work/Study Abroad – $3,300
Recipient: Tanner Cole, The Ohio State University

Cole is obtaining his undergraduate degree in agriculture, majoring in horticulture and minoring in agribusiness. His career goal is to become head grower at a production company and eventually start his own ornamental production business. “Whether my future start-up produces cut flowers, bedding annuals, landscape perennials, or some other type of ornamental crop entirely, I’m confident that I will succeed,” he said.

Earl Dedman owned and operated Mountainview Greenhouses in Woodinville, Washington, and was a former president of BPFI. In addition to his participation with BPFI and BPI, he was involved with the Montana State Flower Growers, the Puget Sound Flower Growers and the Washington Floricultural Association. Educated in rural Montana in a one-room schoolhouse, Dedman had a strong commitment to education. He considered education and hard work to be the keys to success in life. The Earl Dedman Scholarship is awarded to junior or senior students maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA who are interested in becoming greenhouse growers.

Jim Rathmell was a horticulture extension specialist at Penn State University who promoted communication and cooperation with horticulturists in other countries. A widely published author, he worked with commercial growers to implement many outstanding educational programs. The Rathmell Scholarship is awarded to junior or senior level undergraduates or graduate students who have a specific plan for horticulture work/study outside of the U.S.

Long Island Flower Growers Association (LIFGA) Scholarship – $1,400
Recipient: Patrick McLoughlin, Cornell University

McLoughlin is a senior studying plant sciences and is interested in the application of tissue culture for ornamental production, specifically in Impatiens. He plans to start his own business in the future. “I would also like to use local farmers to start a hops breeding program to find novel forms of disease resistance to mildew,” McLoughlin said.

Garrett Owen Purdue University Richard T. Meister Scholarship

Garrett Owen
Purdue University
Richard T. Meister Scholarship

The LIFGA Scholarship was established in 2010. LIFGA members represent growers and retailers promoting research, education and sales of ornamentals in the local market. The scholarship is intended for students in the Long Island/New York area studying ornamental horticulture at a community college or a four-year institution.

Richard T. Meister Scholarship – $4,000
Recipient: Garrett Owen, Purdue University

Owen aspires to continue his doctoral research in floriculture and eventually become a floriculture extension specialist and professor. “I hope to help greenhouse growers improve cultural practices and production of greenhouse crops,” he said.

Dick Meister built a family business in publishing for specialized growers in commercial horticulture. He is a strong supporter of the land-grant college system and through the years worked closely with many horticultural and floricultural leaders. This scholarship is dedicated to the outstanding accomplishments of those in university extension and especially to Will Carlson in floriculture. The Meister Scholarship is open to graduate students in floriculture intending to pursue their career in the land-grant university system with interest in research, extension or teaching.

National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA) Scholarship – $600
Recipient: Anna Ribbeck, Louisiana State University

Ribbeck, a senior studying horticultural science, aims to earn her master’s degree and work as a public horticulturalist in a public display garden. “I want a job that has a variety of aspects, from maintaining plants, to diagnosing plant programs, to growing plants and researching new plants,” Ribbeck said.

Anna Ribbeck Louisiana State University NGMA Scholarship

Anna Ribbeck
Louisiana State University
NGMA Scholarship

NGMA is a professional trade organization for the manufacturers and suppliers of greenhouses and greenhouse components built to codes designed for a grower’s needs. The NGMA Scholarship targets students majoring in horticulture and bioengineering or the equivalent and are at least a junior at an accredited four-year college maintaining a 3.0 GPA.

Lawrence “Bud” Ohlman Memorial Scholarship ($500) and the John L. Tomasovic Sr. Scholarship – $900
Recipient: Mary Lewis, University of Georgia

Lewis is majoring in horticulture with a focus on floriculture. She has great aspirations to work in plant breeding for roses, as they are her favorite plant. “My personal goal is to either create the very first blue rose (through genetic manipulation) or to work for Disney designing some of their floral layouts in Epcot,” she said.

Bud Ohlman was a hands-on grower in his family business, expanding the truck gardening operation to include greenhouses, bedding plant and flowering annuals production. He coached expansion projects even into his 70s. His work ethic was second to none, inspired by God, his family and the industry. His scholarship goes to students with the career goal to become a bedding plant grower for an established business.

Past president of BPFI John Tomasovic has grown his family business, John L. Tomasovic, Sr. Florist, Inc., in St. Louis, which includes a greenhouse from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. They produce geraniums, pot mums, hardy mums, bedding plants, ground covers, poinsettias, Easter lilies, bulb crops and foliage, carrying on the business his father began in 1931. The Tomasovic Scholarship offers special consideration for sophomore, junior or senior undergraduate students with financial need and grade point averages between 3.0 and 3.5.

Seed Companies Scholarship – $2,500
Recipient: Laura Kaderabek, North Carolina State University

Kaderabek is a graduate student whose ultimate goal is to work at a university as a professor or extension specialist in the greenhouse industry. “I would like to develop and contribute new and important research that will help growers and benefit floriculture,” she said.

Seed companies – Ball, Pan-American, Goldsmith and Syngenta – are leaders in the seed production and breeding industry, providing new and improved varieties. These seed companies cooperatively sponsor this scholarship. This scholarship requires students to have a career goal within the seed industry and be junior or senior undergraduate or graduate students.

Edward Tuinier Memorial Scholarship – $4,600
Recipient: Ben Harcey, Michigan State University

Harcey, a senior studying horticulture, has had a love of agriculture since working on his grandfather’s farm and starting his own small landscaping business when he was 14. “My career goals are to create and install landscapes with both a near and long-term perspective in regards to the landscape’s form, function and integrity,” he said.

Ed Tuinier, owner of Post Gardens, loved the greenhouse business, building his firm to one of the top 50 U.S. companies and inspiring his children, all of whom work in one of the two Post Gardens locations. A graduate of Michigan State University, Tuinier was a major benefactor of the MSU horticulture program and demonstration gardens. The Tuinier Scholarship is awarded to sophomore, junior or senior undergraduate students enrolled in the floriculture program at MSU.

Jaclyn Nelson University of Nebraska-Lincoln Jacob and Rita Van Namen Marketing Scholarship

Jaclyn Nelson
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jacob and Rita Van Namen Marketing Scholarship

Jacob and Rita Van Namen Marketing Scholarship – $1,100
Recipient: Jaclyn Nelson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Nelson is a junior studying horticulture-entrepreneurship, with a focus on floral design and business. Her career goal is to own her own floral consulting business. “Instead of owning an average floral shop, I plan to sub-contract with businesses to fill their floral needs and work in the wedding industry,” she said.

The Jacob and Rita Van Namen Marketing Scholarship was established in January 1997. Jacob Van Namen is a true entrepreneur who built a multimillion-dollar business in wholesale floriculture. This award is intended to develop knowledgeable, creative individuals who will improve the floriculture industry. The Van Namen Scholarship requires students have a career interest in agribusiness marketing and distribution of floral products and be a sophomore, junior or senior.

Vocational (Bettinger, Holden and Perry) Scholarship – $1,500
Recipient: Caitlin Redpath, City College of San Francisco

Redpath is majoring in commercial cut flowers, with a minor in floristry. She aims to focus on growing commercial cut flowers in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. “My dream is to be a florist, owning and operating a shop which is supplied by the flowers grown on site in an environmentally responsible fashion,” Redpath said.

The Vocational (Bettinger, Holden and Perry) Scholarship requires students to be in a one or two-year program with the intent to become a grower or greenhouse manager. The Vocational Scholarship awards a scholarship in honor of: LEONARD BETTINGER, who was a successful greenhouse grower in the Bettinger Farms family business in Toledo, Ohio, and was president of the BPI trade association from 1974-76; JOHN HOLDEN, who had a long, helpful career at Ball Seed Co. and was active in the BPI trade association since its inception, attending the very first “pre-BPI” conference in 1968; JIM PERRY, who was a respected wholesale nurseryman, who grew Perry’s Plants of La Puente, California, into one of the largest bedding plant operations in the U.S. and was president of BPI from 1972-74.