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AFE’s Adventure at North Carolina State University: Research and Scholarships in Action

Picture this: a group of industry leaders from AFE’s Board of Trustees and Staff embarking on a journey to North Carolina State University (NCSU) in Raleigh, NC, for our board and committee meetings, along with a university tour. The trip provided us with the opportunity to spend some time with faculty and students who directly benefit from the Endowment’s programs.

Twice a year, the Endowment Board meets in person to engage in strategic discussions and review past, present, and upcoming initiatives, charting the course for the future. The meetings provide for direct industry engagement and feedback on AFE’s programs. This February, however, held an extra special treat—a tour of NCSU and the chance to witness firsthand the impact of AFE’s programs.

The day kicked off with a warm welcome from Dr. Frank Louws, the Head of the Department of Horticultural Science at NCSU. Dr. Louws set the stage with an overview of the university and horticulture department. Then Dr. Hsuan Chen, Assistant Professor, gave an update on the Ornamental Breeding program, and Dr. Steve Frank, Professor and Associate Department Head, spoke on Greenhouse and Nursery Ecology and IPM.

But wait, there’s more! Dr. Melinda Knuth, Dr. John Dole, Dr. Brian Whipker, and Dr. Brian Jackson took the AFE crew on an extensive tour of the facilities, seeing the Cognitive Behavior Lab, exploring long-term cut flower storage, the Wood Substrates Lab, and more. And let’s not forget Dr. Knuth and Dr. Jackson are the lead researchers of AFE’s new Sustainability project, Sustainabloom, which will be launching with a website and sustainability resources for our industry within the next few months.

As the day unfolded, the AFE team had the pleasure of meeting the bright minds benefiting from their support—students, faculty, and researchers alike. From the Young Professionals Council and scholarships to research and educational grant funding, the Endowment’s support for colleges and universities is broad; this funding allows us to foster advancement and growth by aiding the upcoming generation of industry leaders along with supporting innovation through vital research.

Our last stop of the day was in the beautiful Plant Sciences Building! Celeste Brogdon, Director of Strategic Engagement for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, led a tour that included seeing the greenhouses (on the top floor), labs, and meeting spaces.

Capping off the adventure, the Endowment hosted a reception and dinner for the faculty, students, and a few industry members. AFE Chairman Ken Young awarded a special recognition to the Horticulture Team at NC State for their incredible dedication and work on behalf of the floral industry. This event provided the opportunity for industry and academia to connect, network, and plan for future success.

A heartfelt thank you to Dr. Louws, the faculty, and students at NCSU for opening their doors to AFE. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.

For more information about student opportunities, including scholarships, internships, career development, the Young Professionals Council, and more, visit www.endowment.org/students.