The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has announced the Paul Thomas Floriculture Production Intern of the Year award. Designed to recognize an
outstanding student who has participated in the Vic & Margaret Ball Internship
program, this new award also pays special tribute to the late Dr. Paul Thomas, retired
professor at the University of Georgia, who passed away in 2019.
The Vic & Margaret Ball Internship program was established in 1992 to provide
students the opportunity to gain practical experience while training at a commercial
production greenhouse or nursery. Students intern away from home/school for a
period of 3-6 months and receive a scholarship upon completion – up to $6,000!
All students who successfully complete a Vic & Margaret Ball Internship will automatically qualify for this annual recognition, which includes paid travel and hotel to Cultivate, a free registration to Cultivate (provided thanks to AmericanHort), $500 cash, a feature story in AFE’s publications, and networking opportunities with AFE Trustees and the Young Professionals Council during Cultivate. The first award recipient will be named in April 2020 from the qualified students who completed their internship in 2019.
Paul Thomas served as Professor of Horticulture and Extension Floriculture Specialist at the University of
Georgia from 1990 until he retired on August 31, 2019. He was a huge supporter of student internships
and AFE’s Vic & Margaret Ball Internship program and helped mentor hundreds of students. After his retirement, he
served as an Academic Ambassador for the Endowment, traveling to Universities and colleges to promote
the internship program. He held this position only a few short weeks before he passed away.
In a promotional video created with the help of Dr. Thomas about the Ball Internship program, he stated
“I think as faculty members, we owe it to the students to give them the opportunities that allow them to
work and get the experience necessary to be competitive. Isn’t that why we’re here”? His passion and
love for the floral industry and his students is the reason the Vic & Margaret Ball Committee named this
internship of the year in his honor.
“AFE administers nearly a dozen scholarships, provides grants, and oversees three internship programs.
It’s exciting to recognize an outstanding student who has excelled with their internship, and to provide
them with an additional learning experience at Cultivate,” says Randy Tagawa, chairman of the Vic &
Margaret Ball Committee. “These types of learning experiences for students is what Dr. Thomas was so
passionate about and makes this new award even more special.”
For more information about the Vic & Margaret Ball Internship Program, visit
endowment.org/internships. Watch for the announcement of the 2020 Paul Thomas Floriculture
Production Intern of the Year announcement in April!