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Empowering the Future Leaders of Floriculture

Empowering the Future Leaders of Floriculture

AFE’s Personal Leadership Course for Young Professionals

The future will be led by the next generation of innovative, creative,and passionate floral professionals.At the American Floral Endowment, we know that fostering budding professionals and students will ensure that the industry continues to grow, evolve, and thrive. From January 31st – February 9th, the American Floral Endowment, in partnership with Smithers-Oasis, led a new Personal Leadership Course for Young Professionals.

The course encouraged young professionals to launch into 2023 with a fresh look at their personal leadership skills. The course consisted of four sessions over the course of two weeks which explored personal leadership strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Through the course, the young professionals created both long and short-term personal development plans with measurable and trackable milestones.

The course was led by Laura Walsh, Director of Marketing at Smithers-Oasis, and moderated by Dr. Melinda Knuth, Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University and the Young Professionals Council (YPC) 

Advisor to the AFE Board of Trustees. Laura joined the floral industry almost five years ago and brings over 17 years of marketing experience. She has a passion for mentoring and coaching young professionals. Additionally, Dr. Knuth embodies what it means to be a young leader in our industry, receiving GPN Magazine’s 40 under 40 award in 2021 and overseeing and conducting forward-thinking research, including AFE’s Sustainability Project.

“I believe that to be a strong and impactful leader, you should be building up those around you. Giving young professionals the tools and guidance that they need to excel will be crucial for future growth,” notes Laura Walsh.

Thanks to the sponsorship from Smithers-Oasis, attendees were given free access to a paid assessment tool,  which provided a detailed report on each attendee’s individual top five strengths and how they can manifest in day-to-day life.

Each of the four one-hour sessions built off each other and were fully interactive, encouraging discussion through breakout rooms and open Q&A. The course included exercises focusing on vision, core values, and goal setting. Attendees represented a broad range of backgrounds, from academia to floral designers and growers – bringing diverse perspectives and aspirations.

Investing time and resources into the next generation is vital to ongoing industry success and vastly appreciated by young professionals. Through an anonymous feedback survey at the end of the course, the attendees shared that the presenter and presentation were “very inspirational and empowering.” One respondent noted that they would have liked the sessions to be expanded even more beyond the four-hour commitment, requesting “More of a good thing!”

Young professionals are not only finding these resources valuable and worthwhile, but they are also hungry for more! Through the feedback, we also learned that the group found that 50-75% of the information was new to them.

Those who attended a majority of the four sessions received a certificate of completion to recognize their commitment to learning and personal development.

So, how does one gain access to courses and resources like this? The course was made possible through AFE’s Young Professionals Council (YPC). The Council is fully free to join and promotes personal growth through in-person meetings, webinars, networking events, and volunteer opportunities. We encourage anyone 18-35 in the floral industry looking for more networking and development opportunities to join. If you have any questions, please reach out to AFE’s Manager of Communications & Outreach, Karin Krause, at kkrause@afeendowment.org.

By Karin Krause, AFE’s Manager of Communications and Outreach