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Fostering Industry Connections and Uplifting Young Professionals at Cultivate 2022!

The Board of Trustees and Staff at the American Floral Endowment (AFE) have been eager to return to in-person events and have hit the ground running in 2022! With refreshed perspectives and valued connections in mind from GLFEE 2022 and Floriexpo 2022, some of the AFE team traveled to Columbus, Ohio, this past July for American Hort’s Cultivate ’22 to continue to strengthen the Endowment’s industry involvement.

Every year, Cultivate is one of the largest international horticulture gatherings, known to attract thousands of industry professionals and visitors from all 50 US states and over 40 countries. Cultivate offers it all, from 140+ educational sessions to hands-on workshops, production tours, and countless opportunities to connect with other industry members. Opportunities like events create a space for young professionals to build meaningful floriculture-related professional relationships.

Among those attendees were several of AFE’s Young Professionals Council members who 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.

We deeply value our in-person time with YPC. AFE gets to foster deeper connections, hear how the members have progressed in their careers, and discuss challenges in the industry. Young professionals’ perspectives are extremely valuable to AFE as we strive to provide relevant resources, education, and solutions for a stronger, more sustainable future. We want to support the YPC the best we can, and we always welcome new members,” noted Karin.

The YPC dinner table conversation flowed with laughter, life updates, and industry anecdotes. Members discussed AFE’s new Strategic Plan, how to increase involvement in the YPC, how else the Endowment and the industry can support young professionals, and the best tips for networking at events like Cultivate post-COVID.

As a long-standing member of YPC, it was great to catch up with old friends and colleagues. However, it was even more amazing to meet all the new members and hear what they are doing for the floriculture community,” said YPC member Josh Henry.

Also among the attendees at Cultivate and the YPC luncheon were AFE’s 2022 Paul Thomas Floriculture Production Interns of the year, Holly Barrus of the University of Idaho, and Will Billmeyer of Kirkwood Community College.

Every year, AFE gives the recipient(s) of this award paid hotel and airfare to Cultivate and free registration (compliments of AmericanHort), among other perks.

At the time of the award, Holly and Will expressed great appreciation and excitement in attending Cultivate this year, interested in the education sessions and expanding their network.

I don’t know how to tell you how much I learned, grew, and got to experience in a very short four days [at Cultivate]. But first, I need to thank the AFE and the Vic & Margaret Ball Committee for enabling Will and me to have such a wonderful experience. I was able to sit in many lectures, learning from experts on topics like the shading in greenhouses, watering strategies, and how to be a difference in my team and career,” said Holly in her Cultivate 2022 Report.

The AFE team connected with these two industry rising stars at Cultivate (pictured above), discussing how powerful it is to network in person there and at events like it. The group acknowledged how influential connections could be made and have the potential to help with career goals. Hungry for more, Holly sought to join the YPC after Cultivate and will join the 2022 roster! We are thrilled to add more members to the YPC and encourage enriching experiences like Cultivate. We recognize our programs’ impact on individuals like Holly and Will, and it is an excellent reminder of why the Endowment’s work is so important.

Check out Holly’s Cultivate 2022 Report and Will’s Cultivate 2022 Report, where they divulge the lessons learned, knowledge gained, and connections made during this spectacular event.

In the interim, AFE looks forward to seeing the industry at our event and reception at SAF 2022 in September – we hope to see you there!