In celebration of our 60th anniversary, we have invited the floral community to share their #AFEandMe story with us. From long-time supporters to industry experts and students, many industry members have participated by sharing how AFE has impacted them personally and professionally.
Providing resources and opportunities for students and young professionals in the industry is an important focus for AFE funding. Many students, like Melissa Munoz from Clemson University, have gained valuable experience through AFE Programs. Melissa has been involved with AFE since 2016 through AFE-funded research projects and scholarships. She shares how these programs have opened up new doors for her and her career path.
“I started my master’s degree at Clemson University in August 2016 with a research project funded by AFE. Thanks to that project I have gained experience in floriculture, met a lot of wonderful people, interacted directly with cut flower growers, and I like it so much that now I’m doing my Ph.D. with another project funded by AFE! AFE has supported not only the research that I work with but has also been a great support for me as a student. In 2018/2019 I received the Paul Ecke Jr. Scholarship from AFE that helped to cover my expenses and allowed me to travel to different conferences that have been crucial for my professional development.”
Developing strong relationships with growers, retailers, and organizations not only extends our reach within the industry but helps AFE provide impactful opportunities and internships. Ann Pennington from Neal Mast Greenhouses shares her experience and notes the importance of Neal Mast’s partnership with AFE.
“Maintaining a strong relationship with the American Floral Endowment, as well as colleges and universities that have well-known horticulture programs, is key to the success of the Neal Mast Greenhouses internship program,” noted Pennington. “The interns we have hosted through our partnership with AFE have a passion for plants and have been very successful at our facilities. Their enthusiasm and dedication inspire our team, reminding us all of why we are in this industry…NMG is very much looking forward to hosting more interns in 2021 – thank you AFE!”
Connections such as these are vital to industry advancement, as is relevant research. Pursuing new projects helps drive a successful floriculture and horticulture business. AFE provides continuous, relevant research to address industry challenges and build a stronger future. Sten Crissey, former AFE Trustee and retired retailer, expresses how our investment in research helps the industry advance retailers and why he continues to support the Endowment.
“With the current focus on vaccines to fight COVID-19, I liken AFE to a vaccine that fights the innumerable threats that could harm my retail business. Flowers that were once seasonal are now available year-round. Flowers that could only be transported locally at one time now come routinely from all parts of the world. Drip irrigation prevents wasted water and, in so doing, lowers the cost of production creating savings I can pass on to my customers. Of course, drip irrigation has not only been beneficial to our industry, but it has also been critical to such diverse industries as hospitality, e.g. hotel lobbies, and wine. And where would my business have been if our plants and flowers were diseased, misshapen, short-lived, pest damaged, and simply unacceptable to the public? These examples and more have come from AFE research benefiting retailers directly or indirectly. Sure, a vaccine comes with an uncomfortable poke in the arm but we do it because we know it is in our best interest. Likewise, the gifts we make to AFE may – and should – cause a modicum of financial discomfort but any retailer who wants to maintain a healthy business will generously support AFE.”
Since 1961, AFE has impacted the lives of many growers, wholesalers, retailers, students, allied industry organizations, and more. We hope to continue growing our resources for the floral industry to provide impactful support now and into the future.
AFE would like to thank all those who have shared their stories with us. Your continued support and generosity ensure a better floral future for the industry and its members. We could not do it without you!
Keep an eye on our social media for more #AFEandMe features!
If you’d like to share your story, tag us in your post on social media or fill out the form here.