Seventeen scholarship winners have been awarded competitive scholarships from AFE totaling more than $30,000.
“Scholarships are so important to assist those who want to further their education in our industry,” AFE Scholarship Chairperson PJ Ellison of Ellison’s Greenhouses said. “Not only do they help the students, they also show those who want to be in our industry how much AFE cares.”
AFE awards scholarships annually, and applications are due by May 1 of each year. This year, AFE had a record number of highly qualified scholarship applicants.
American Florists’ Exchange Scholarship – $2,000
Recipient: Katrina Moldenhauer
Moldenhauer, a junior at California Polytechnic State University studying agribusiness, hopes to work in the floriculture industry in sales or management. “My family owns two bulb/cut flower farms that I have spent several years working at,” Moldenhauer said. “Working on the farm and seeing people produce agriculture is something I love to take part in.”
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 ($1,000) and the Earl Dedman Memorial Scholarship – $1,800
Recipient: Joshua Pecukonis
Pecukonis, a junior at Montana State University studying environmental horticulture, hopes to eventually own and manage a large greenhouse operation. “I have been bonded to the industry; imprinted at birth and sentenced to a life full of flowers,” Pecukonis said. “I would like to help improve the floral industry for future generations by becoming a cut flower grower.”
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.
Earl Dedman owned and operated Mountainview Greenhouses in Woodinville, Wash., and was a former president of Bedding Plants Foundation, Inc. (BPFI). In addition to his participation with BPFI and Bedding Plants International (BPI), Earl 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, Earl had a strong commitment to education, believing it was a great way to better yourself. Earl considered education and hard work to be the keys to success in life. The Earl Dedman Scholarship is awarded to juniors or seniors maintaining a minimum 3.0 GPA, who are interested in becoming greenhouse growers.
Ball Horticultural Company Scholarship ($800) and the Harold Bettinger Scholarship -$1,800
Recipient: Amy Miller
Miller, a junior at The Ohio State University, is enthusiastic about working with plants, either as a greenhouse grower or a plant researcher. “I know that I am passionate about working with plants, and I am excited to look into all the opportunities the horticulture field has to offer,” Miller said.
Ball Horticultural Company is a leading international breeder, producer and wholesale distributor of floriculture products. Ball brings the beginnings of color, foliage, fruit and form to professional growers around the world for the retail and landscape markets. The Ball Horticultural Company Scholarship is intended for junior or senior students pursuing a career in commercial floriculture.
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 – $1,100
Recipient: David Roberts
Roberts, a graduate student at North Carolina State University, would like to earn his PhD after his graduate degree and work as a professor, where he would spend the majority of his time researching and send some time teaching as well. “I plan to one day give back to the academic community that has already done so much for me,” Roberts said. “Nothing would make me happier than working for a land-grant university like NC State, and until that day, I will pour all of my efforts and energies into achieving that goal.”
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 better. 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.
James Bridenbaugh Memorial Scholarship – $500
Recipient: Ryanna Zoellner
Zoellner, a junior studying horticulture at the University of Georgia, aims to pursue a second degree in marketing and work for a company that is at least a wholesale and retail floral distributor, if not a producer as well. “I feel like flowers are the living embodiment of emotions and say things that words just can’t sometimes,” Zoellner said. “That means I’m devoted to the industry and everything it has to offer its customers.”
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. Jim 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 ($1,900) and the Richard T. Meister Scholarship – $2,500
Recipient: Jared Barnes
Barnes, a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University, hopes to become a college professor to cultivate plants while also cultivating students into gardeners. “Horticulture has greatly enriched my life, and I want to contribute to our industry, our profession and our passion,” Barnes said. “I believe that I can best fulfill this role by being an enthusiastic college professor.”
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.
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.
Fran Johnson Nontraditional Scholarship – $1,000
Recipient: Allison Justice
Justice, a doctoral candidate at Clemson University, aims to be an industry leader in research and development for a plant breeder or cutting production facility after she graduates. “I believe my passion, excitement, determination and persistence are qualities that will one day make me an excellent professional and future American Floral Endowment scholar,” Justice said.
Fran Johnson enjoyed a long, productive career with the John Henry Co., a horticultural printing firm in Lansing, Mich. She also made many significant and practical contributions of time and talent through the BPI trade association to advance the greenhouse industry. The Johnson scholarship goes to students re-entering school after a minimum 5-year absence who have an interest in bedding and/or floral crops.
Long Island Flower Growers Association (LIFGA) Scholarship – $1,000
Recipient: Christopher D’Angelo
D’Angelo, a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, plans to complete his PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics and then enter the industry as a commercial plant breeder working with floriculture crops. “By the end of my PhD I want to be ready to meet the challenges that I will undoubtedly face when I enter the horticulture industry as a young professional because I intend to face those challenges head on,” D’Angelo said.
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 LIFGA scholarship is intended for students in the Long Island/New York area studying ornamental horticulture at a community college or a four-year institution.
National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA) Scholarship ($500) and the Lawrence “Bud” Ohlman Memorial Scholarship – $500
Recipient: Joshua Henry
Henry, a junior at The Ohio State University, aims to work as a researcher specializing in bedding and vegetable crops after he completes his education. His long-term career goal is to own and operate his own greenhouse business. “Between my various volunteering, jobs and involvement at school, I have always tried to go above and beyond to learn about horticulture,” Henry said. “I have been working in the industry for the majority of my life, and I have no intention of stopping.”
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.
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. Bud’s work ethic was second to none, inspired by his 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.
Mike and Flo Novovesky Scholarship – $1,000
Recipient: Jeremy Crook
Crook, a PhD candidate in Plant and Environmental Science at Clemson University, hopes to fulfill his career goal of teaching and conducting research at a university. “One of my main long term goals is to become a world-renowned floriculturist,” Crook said. “I love to teach and share this passion with others, so I would like to become a professor where I can use my talents to be a mentor.”
Mike and Flo Novovesky have enjoyed over 30 years of active participation in the floriculture industry. The Novovesky’s know first hand 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.
James K. Rathmell, Jr. Memorial Scholarship for Horticultural Work/Study Abroad – $3,100
Recipient: Jessica Cudnik
Cudnik is studying for her Master of Science in Horticulture at the University of Georgia and hopes to become an educator and practitioner in horticulture with a potential for becoming a PhD student with an emphasis on sustainable and long term planning. “Not only is my current research in sustainable horticulture and community and school gardens addressing both food for the soul and body with ornamentals and vegetable production respectively, but I also work to connect humans with their agrarian roots through managing volunteers at the UGArden, a student run organization that is dedicated to the management of a 2.5-acre garden plot,” Cudnik said.
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 United States.
Seed Companies Scholarship – $2,300
Recipient: Kyle VandenLangenberg
VandenLangenberg, a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University, hopes to obtain a job in the seed industry with a focus on small horticultural crops or novel ornamentals. “My communication skills, professional skills and ability to learn a new environment and be successful will help me obtain my career goals,” VandenLangenberg said.
Seed companies – Ball, Pan-American, Goldsmith and Syngenta – are leaders in the seed production and breeding industry, providing new, improved varieties. These seed companies co-operatively sponsor this scholarship. This scholarship requires students to have a career goal within the seed industry and be junior or senior level undergraduate or graduate students.
John L. Tomasovic, Sr. Scholarship – $900
Recipient: Keith Lukowski
Lukowski, a senior studying horticultural science at North Carolina State University, hopes to one day work all over the world in public horticulture, either at botanical gardens or historical estates. He would like to eventually reach the director level and be involved in all aspects of the gardens where he works. “When I think about how much I can learn and pass on to future horticulture enthusiasts by just focusing on this field for which I have so much heart, I am elated at my good fortune,” Lukowski said.
John Tomasovic, past president of BPFI, 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 average between 3.0 and 3.5.
Edward Tuinier Memorial Scholarship – $4,300 split between two students
Recipients: Kathleen Van Driessche and Robert Zannini
Van Driessche, a senior in horticulture science at Michigan State University, aspires to be a head grower for a production greenhouse in the U.S. “I love getting my hands dirty when planting, I love transplanting and maintaining the plants in the greenhouses and watching them grow into big, beautiful plants,” Van Driessche said. “I feel so accomplished that I have the skills to be able to grow plants on a small scale at the age of 21, so my goal is to land a job at a production greenhouse in the U.S. and be trained to become a large scale grower of annuals and seasonal potted plants.”
Zannini, a senior at Michigan State University, aspires to create new gardens and also restore, rehabilitate and maintain older gardens. He would like to combine this work with community outreach and workshops for people interested in gardening. “I love gardening, landscaping and just nurturing things along,” Zannini 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, Ed 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 Michigan State University.
Jacob and Rita Van Namen Marketing Scholarship – $1,000
Recipient: Elizabeth Riley
Riley, a PhD candidate at North Carolina State University, would like to acquire a teaching position in a Horticultural Science Department when she completes her PhD in May 2015. “A career in horticulture is one that will be ever changing and evolving, and I am excited to be a part of it,” Riley said.
The Jacob and Rita Van Namen Marketing Scholarship was established 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 to improve the floriculture industry. The Van Namen Scholarship requires students to have a career interest in agribusiness marketing and distribution of floral products and be of sophomore, junior or senior standing.
Vocational (Bettinger, Holden and Perry) Scholarship – $1,100
Recipient: Richard Cadwalader
Cadwalader, a sophomore at Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, NC, hopes to pursue a career in environmental horticulture with the goal of operating a restoration and conservation landscaping, nursery and greenhouse business. “The Landscape Gardening program at Sandhills Community College is very much hands-on; the students maintain a 65 acre horticultural garden, which includes extended residency on campus,” Cadwalader said. “They are preparing me for success in my horticultural career.”
The Vocational (Bettinger, Holden & Perry) Scholarship requires students to be in a 1 or 2-year program with the intent to become a grower or greenhouse manager. Leonard Bettinger was a successful greenhouse grower in the Bettinger Farms family business in Toledo, Ohio and was president of the BPI trade association from 1974-1976. John Holden 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 was a respected wholesale nurseryman, who grew Perry’s Plants of La Puente, Calif., into one of the largest bedding plant operations in the U.S. and was president of BPI from 1972-1974.