AFE established the Young Professionals Council (YPC) in 2015 to enable a vibrant group of students and young industry professionals to learn more about the floriculture industry and contribute to the efforts of the Endowment. The YPC offers leadership and networking opportunities, while also providing volunteer opportunities with AFE.

Young Professionals Council LogoYPC members are given the opportunity to share their ideas, collaborate with influential industry members and help promote and support AFE’s mission by bringing fresh, energetic leadership to their roles. They will also interact with other young professionals with similar interests and career goals.


  1. Learn about nonprofit board service by engaging in training, shadowing and mentoring opportunities with AFE Board and staff.
  2. Raise awareness about AFE and the floriculture industry through marketing, social media and events.
  3. Volunteer with AFE in a variety of areas: fundraising, events, scholarship review, etc.
  4. Reach other young professionals interested in becoming active in the industry.

YPC members must:

  • Be 21-35 years old and live in the United States
  • Commit to using your skills and strengths to advance AFE and build a strong group of supporters and donor prospects
  • Be an ambassador for AFE and expand our network of friends and supporters
  • Participate in one or more volunteer activities (i.e., scholarship review, fundraising dinner efforts, article/social media contributions, etc.)
  • Participate in at least 2 calls/meetings each year
  • Assist in promoting AFE’s annual gala among peers
  • Help develop and employ new strategies and approaches for fundraising, marketing, outreach and planning

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Young Professionals Council, please fill out the YPC Bio Form and email it to Lori Ostrow, Manager of Communications.

Current list of members:

  1. Mark Allen (Field Marketing Manager at Floralife/Smithers Oasis)
  2. Lacee Bilke (Co-owner of Madeline’s Flowers)
  3. Lenzee Bilke (Co-owner of Madeline’s Flowers)
  4. Hannah Berisford (Head Grower at eMerge Inc. Greenhouse)
  5. Tha Cha (Grower at Cha Veggies, Production Manager at Wagner Greenhouse)
  6. QiuXia Chen (Graduate student at Michigan State University)
  7. Lesleighan Cravens (Floral Design Instructor at the University of Missouri-Columbia)
  8. Joshua Craver (Ph.D. student at Purdue University)
  9. Mason Day (Co-founder of GrowIt! at Ball Horticultural Company)
  10. Eric Fernandez (Director of Mass Markets and Business Development at Continental Flowers)
  11. Nicholas Flax (Graduate student at Iowa State University)
  12. Diana Fox (Undergraduate Student at University of Missouri-Columbia)
  13. Josh Henry (Graduate student at North Carolina State University)
  14. Sarah Hollis (Undergraduate student at Texas A&M University)
  15. Bethany Kennedy (Undergraduate student at Texas A&M University)
  16. Melinda Knuth (Ph.D. student at Texas A&M University)
  17. Mary Lewis (Undergraduate student at the University of Georgia)
  18. Keri Livingston (Program Manager at Altman Specialty Plants)
  19. Emma Lookabaugh (Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University)
  20. Shelby McCarty (Owner of SRM Events)
  21. Qingwu (William) Meng (Ph.D. student at Michigan State University)
  22. Kristen Publicover Miller (Postharvest Scientist at Floralife/Smithers Oasis)
  23. Leynar Leyton Naranjo (Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia)
  24. Nathan Nordstedt (Graduate student at The Ohio State University)
  25. Ikenna Obi (Undergraduate student at Sam Houston State University)
  26. Yujin Park (Ph.D. student at Michigan State University)
  27. Brian Poel (Graduate student at Michigan State University)
  28. Gray Simpson (Undergraduate student at the University of Georgia)
  29. Krystal Snyder (Technical Specialist at J.R. Peters)
  30. Kaylee South (Graduate student at The Ohio State University)
  31. Hanna Souther (Floral Designer at Karin’s Florist)
  32. Eric Stallknecht (Graduate student at the University of Georgia)
  33. Kellie Walters (Ph.D. student at Michigan State University)
  34. Michael Wiebe (Technical Sales Representative at Smithers Oasis Company)
  35. Brenton Williams (Senior Greenhouse Technician at Floralife/Smithers Oasis)
  36. Renée Wright (Lead Horticulturist at Bloom’n Gardens Landscape)
  37. Allison Zeeb (Undergraduate student at Illinois State University)
  38. Mengzi Zhang (Graduate Student at Michigan State University)
  39. Shuyang Zhen (Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia)