The American Floral Endowment (AFE) is excited to celebrate and recognize Research Director, Terril Nell, Ph.D., AAF for his recent induction into the 2023 Society of American Florists (SAF) Floriculture Hall of Fame. Dr. Nell was awarded this accolade at SAF’s 2023 Annual Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Floriculture Hall of Fame is the industry’s highest honor. It is designed to recognize and encourage the highest standards of service and professional responsibility in members of the floral industry. The goals of this award are to: provide appropriate recognition honoring those men and women of sound moral character and high integrity who have made outstanding and lasting contributions to the advancement of floriculture as an integral part of the American way of life; and to ensure the perpetuation of the memories of such men and women by enshrining their good works in a manner befitting their contributions.
Dr. Nell has spent his entire career working for the benefit of the floral industry. He retired as Professor Emeritus of Floriculture after a 35-year tenure at the University of Florida, where he served as Chair of the Environmental Horticulture Department from 1991–2012.
His research program focused on the production and postharvest handling of flowering potted plants and fresh-cut flowers. He developed the University of Florida flower postharvest program in 1983, concentrating on developing protocols to improve potted plant and cut flower performance for growers, shippers, wholesale and retail florists, and interior plantscapers.
His research has led to the development of best practices and advances within the floral industry leading to improved flower and plant longevity. He has consulted for growers, wholesalers, and retailers nationally and internationally for over 40 years. A highly respected care and handling expert, Dr. Nell co-authored the Flower and Plant Care Manual produced by the Society of American Florists and Flowering Potted Plants: Prolonging Freshness by Ball Publishing.
Additionally, Dr. Nell helped educate and train hundreds of students who have gone on to become successful educators, faculty, industry business owners, and leaders. He continues to inspire youth through speaking engagements, helping young faculty, and being a mentor. Most recently, and after retiring from the University of Florida, Dr. Nell for the past nine years has served as the Research Director of the American Floral Endowment. In this position, he oversees research projects, works with both faculty and industry members, and serves as a research expert and resource for the industry. He also serves as the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI – USDA) liaison to the Horticulture Research Institute (HRI) to support research for the flower and nursery industry.
In 2017, Dr. Nell initiated a special research fund at AFE to combat thrips and botrytis which have been devastating to floral crops. Raising $1.5 million for this special project, he’s managed and overseen over 15 projects dedicated to tackling these pests developing new protocols to help growers reduce losses. This special campaign has resulted in a highly impactful research library of resources for combatting pests and diseases.
In addition to his work and collaboration with U.S. flower growers, Dr. Nell has also worked with the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters (Asocolflores), to identify and solve growing challenges abroad. This collaborative international effort has led to improved flower quality for consumers.
Dr. Nell has volunteered time throughout his career to additional organizations and causes. He joined the Society of American Florists (SAF) in 1990 and served as SAF’s President from 2003-2005, the only member of the academic community to ever be elected to this position. During his years with SAF, he also served on the Growers Council, Government Relations Council, and Research Committee. He chaired the SAF Political Action Committee (SAFPAC) and was able to reignite and grow that fund immensely by personally reaching out to industry members to discuss the importance of supporting legislative action to support the floral industry in the U.S.
Dr. Nell served as the UF liaison to the Florida Nursery and Grower’s Association, Florida Turfgrass Association, Golf Course Superintendents Association of American – Florida Chapter, Association of Floral Importers, and Florida Sod Growers Cooperative.
Dr. Nell’s impact on the floral industry has been significant. To read the full announcement of his induction into the Floriculture Hall of Fame from SAF, click here. AFE is so grateful to have him as a part of our team. Congratulations Terril!