Dear AFE Supporters and Friends,
It has been an honor to serve as Chairman of AFE for the past two years. Even in these unprecedented times, I believe we have accomplished a lot. There’s still a lot of work to do for the industry, but in my time as Chairman, significant progress has been made on our goals and development:
Solving Industry Challenges Through Specialized Research
- To fill a gap in cut flower research over the last few years, we refocused resources ensuring that three universities are now researching in that market – Clemson, Ohio State, and North Carolina State. Along with the research focus at the universities, we are making sure that USDA funds also help cut flower research. Not to worry about bedding and potted plant research, the lion share of research is still in these areas.
- AFE now helps manage the proposals and research projects for the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI), ensuring the projects are progressing, and that the money is sent across all segments – bedding, potted plants, and cut flowers. The FNRI is the managing organization with the USDA that funds ornamental research.
- We established a special fund focused on the major concerns of growers. Terril Nell did a great job assembling and building the fund. To combat thrips and botrytis, we raised over a million dollars funding research on these two important areas. This was a new way for us to focus the research within the specialized needs of the market.
Fostering, Educating, and Recruiting Top Talent
- We continue to encourage the future of the floral industry through scholarships, internships, and grants. The pandemic has shifted some of our programs for students adding a special focus on safety, but that has not stopped our commitment and investment to getting the future leaders the education and professional experience needed for them to succeed.
- This year the Vic & Margaret Ball internship reached $1 million in funding to students since it began in 1992, and has impacted thousands of students, some who are successful industry owners today.
- AFE launched a Career Center focused specifically on the floral industry. Now more than ever, we need to support those in the industry with the tools needed for professional growth and change. We proudly do this with a network of applicants, employers, and career resources, which we launched at the beginning of 2020.
The team at AFE, Debi Chedester, Karin Krause, and Candice Musgrove, along with AFE’s research coordinator Dr. Terril Nell, work tirelessly for the industry. Their passion and commitment to AFE assisted me and the AFE Trustees in achieving our strategic initiatives.
I will continue to proudly support AFE as Past Chairman for the next two years and beyond as a committed member of their network. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve and look forward to seeing AFE’s work continue under incoming Chairman Laura Shinall’s leadership. I am confident that she will continue to build AFE’s positive impact on the floral industry.