AFE awarded the 2016 Paul Ecke, Jr. Scholarship to Kellie Walters of Michigan State University.
The Paul Ecke, Jr. Scholarship was established in 2010 and honors the late Paul Ecke, Jr., who made significant contributions to the floriculture industry and believed strongly in research and education. He recognized that creative scientists and educators are required to lead the floral industry in the 21st century and beyond.
This merit-based, prestigious scholarship has been funded by industry contributions and the Ecke family to assist in funding the education of floriculture graduate students (MS or Ph.D.) at land-grant institutions, who will become leading floricultural scientists and educators.
Kellie Walters is pursuing her Ph.D. at Michigan State University and got involved in the floriculture industry in elementary school, when she sold marigolds and spider plants on her parents’ driveway. Walters will receive a $10,000 scholarship ($5,000 for two consecutive years), provided she continues to meet scholarship requirements.
“This scholarship will really help me continue contributing to the industry through my research and through helping others, too,” said Walters.
When she was a teenager she started her own business, Kellie’s Floral Landscaping, and also sold flowers and arrangements at farmers’ markets. In addition, Walters worked at a local floral shop that had a greenhouse.
“Kellie is passionate about greenhouse and floriculture production. She has the drive and work ethic to make valuable contributions in the floriculture industry,” said Roberto Lopez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Michigan State University.
The proposed project for her doctoral research will focus on the propagation of herbaceous perennial ornamentals. Her future goals include becoming a professor and providing research-based solutions to floriculture problems.
The 2015 Ecke recipient, Daniel Klittich of the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), will receive his second year of funding this year.
“The funding has been pivotal in completing key goals of my research, as well as allowing me to attend several academic conferences and grower meetings to present my research,” said Klittich.
“To be able to see and hear pest control issues on a local, national and international scale from growers and researchers was very valuable.”
He is working towards his Ph.D. in entomology, and his research is focused on increasing plant resistance to pests and disease through the use of silicon-based fertilizers.