Developing and Celebrating Young Professionals

At the American Floral Endowment, we know that the future of our industry is dependent on fostering the next generation of industry leaders. Through scholarships, internships, career resources, and the Young Professionals Council, the Endowment aims to support young professionals at each step in their journey in floriculture from education into their careers. 

YPC LogoBy aiding the next generation with over 30 annual scholarships and three internship programs, we are ensuring that students have the tools and funding that they need to pursue an education in floriculture, keeping our industry competitive with other fields. This includes a special invitation to get involved through our Young Professionals Council (YPC) and utilize the AFE Career Center to prepare them for their new careers. 

However, the Young Professionals Council is not limited to those already connected to AFE through our programs. Anyone interested in pursuing careers in floriculture aged 18-35 is welcome to join. The membership is totally free! YPC members are welcome to in-person and online networking events, personal development webinars, volunteer opportunities, and more. 

The YPC offers unique opportunities to network both with peers and industry leaders from all segments of the industry. The group is a mix of those in both academia and industry. 

This July, AFE Staff traveled to Columbus, Ohio, for American Hort’s Cultivate ’23 to continue to strengthen the Endowment’s industry involvement and connect with our community and the next generation. 

While there, Young Professionals Council members got together for a luncheon to reconnect, catch up, and plan ahead with AFE’s Manager of Communications and Outreach and YPC Liaison, Karin Krause. 

The YPC meet-up conversation flowed with life updates and industry anecdotes. Members discussed new industry challenges & advances, how to engage more students in floriculture, and several of their current research focuses.

“I had a great time as a Young Professional and first-time attendant/speaker at Cultivate 2023. I  was honored to receive the 40 under 40 award;  had a great panel discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion for our industry; saw old friends; and made new connections, especially at the YPC networking lunch! YPC is a home for all young professionals! Overall, it was quite an experience, and I enjoyed it so much!” noted YPC member Ping Yu from the University of Georgia. 

Also among the attendees at Cultivate and the YPC luncheon were AFE’s 2023 Paul Thomas Floriculture Production Intern of the Year, Emily Larsen of the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. 

Through AFE, Emily completed a 3-Month Internship at Altman Plants. Every year, AFE gives the recipient of this prestigious award paid hotel and airfare to Cultivate and free registration, among other perks.

We recognize our programs’ impact on individuals like Emily, and it is an excellent reminder of why the Endowment’s work is so important. Coming soon, you’ll be able to check out Emily’s 2023 Cultivate report, where she’ll share her reflections on the event. Stay tuned to AFE’s social for that release! 

GPN’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2023

Another great celebration of young professionals in our industry is GPN’s 40 Under 40, which included a reception during the event. We wish to highlight the YPC members and AFE Staff who were included in this recognition by GPN. Awardees included but were not limited to: 

Alongside YPC members: 

(from left to right) Laura Barth, AFE’s Research Coordinator and Awardee, Debi Chedester, AFE’s Research Director, Ping You, YPC Member and Awardee, Hannah Brookfield, YPC Member and Awardee

“Being recognized as one of GPN’s 40 under 40 in an industry I’ve been in since I was 16 has been one of my greatest professional achievements. I am also looking forward to continued connection with the industry through the Young Professionals Council, where we can continue to build each other up as young leaders,” stated YPC member and awardee Hannah Brookfield. 

We encourage any young professionals who would like to meet this group of high-achieving peers and gain access to other career and personal development resources to join our Young Professionals Council. Any questions about the group can be sent to our YPC Staff Liaison, Our next upcoming events include a webinar on Team Management and a Networking Happy Hour with the AFE Board of Trustees consisting of industry leaders across all sectors.

For all industry members, AFE looks forward to seeing the industry at our event and reception at SAF 2023 in September – we hope to see you there!


By Karin Krause, Manager of Communications and Outreach