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Internship Experiences Providing Skills for Success

Internship Experiences Providing Skills for Success

2021 AFE Internship Awards and Placements

The future looks bright! Let’s kickstart 2022 with some excitement, positive vibes, and industry successes – join us in congratulating ten dedicated students who rocked their internships in 2021 through AFE’s internship programs. With valuable industry experience under their belt, they’ve not only gained crucial skills but are eager to learn more and make significant impacts in the future.

Internships are win-win for floral industry organizations and students – while students can apply, practice, and expand their knowledge, industry organizations acquire top talent and bring new, forward-thinking to their operations. Opportunities such as these are integral to developing young professionals’ skills and the future of our industry. AFE is thrilled to facilitate these experiences through our internship programs, and we’d like to recognize the 2021 superstars who remained dedicated to their internships through COVID-19 – they paint a bright picture for the next generation! Applications for our 2022 Internships are due March 1.

The Vic & Margaret Ball Internship Program is one of three of AFE’s Internship programs, and it provides students with the opportunity to gain practical floriculture/horticulture experience while training at a commercial production greenhouse or nursery. Students intern for three, four, or six-month periods. Upon successful completion of their paid internship, they will receive a scholarship of $1,500 for three months, $4,000 for four months, or $6,000 for six months.

2021 Vic & Margaret Ball Internship Recipients

Cole Bieker –  January 2021 – April 2021

In his last year at Kansas State University, Cole had the privilege of spending four months interning for Green Circle Growers in Oberlin, OH. To complement his studies in Horticulture Production, this internship provided Cole with an excellent opportunity for practice and real, hands-on tasks. “This internship was a terrific way for me to learn how to apply my education from Kansas State University and get a good feeling for what it is like to work for a large-scale production operation. The interactions at Green Circle Growers have had a direct and significant impact on my career path,” he noted. Cole’s scholarship award was $4,000.


William Billmeyer –  January 2021 – June 2021

From a young age, William Billmeyer took an interest in plant propagation and breeding. This passion soon translated into his studies, and he now attends Kirkwood Community College, where he will graduate with a degree in Landscape Horticulture Studies. To further pursue this career, William spent six months interning for Tagawa Greenhouses in Brighton, CO learning the ins and outs of a professional horticulture operation. William was hesitant to move halfway across the country for an internship, but he says, “I was surprised by how much knowledge I gained from the location alone. I will be talking to first-year students about my experiences at Tagawa and with AFE and encouraging more students to apply for the Vic & Margaret Ball Intern Scholarship. The distance was well worth it!”

Samuel CaplanMay 2021 – August 2021

After a three-month internship with Neal Mast Greenhouses in Grand Rapids, MI, Samuel Caplan learned some important lessons through his position. Sam claims, “I think the most important skill I learned at my internship was time management. This internship was extremely useful in helping me make decisions regarding my career path.” With that in mind, Sam has graduated with a degree in floriculture at Colorado State University.

Christina RodiguezJanuary 2021 – July 2021

With her studies focused on Horticulture at Kansas State University, this internship served Christina and her future well. She said of the experience,” I have learned enough to write a book. I feel it is difficult even to express all that I have learned. I barely scratched the surface of the immense amount of knowledge I gained. I am very grateful for the opportunity to gain experience and skills in my field of study, horticulture. I now feel incredibly confident I will be more than capable of achieving my future career goals as a head grower. I wouldn’t have been able to do this with the opportunity of a lifetime – the Vic and Margaret Ball Internship!”

Ava MelzakJanuary 2021 – July 2021

A beautiful, functional, and sustainable landscape is part of Ava’s career dream – she took a big step toward it this past year with her six-month internship at Skagit Horticulture in Mt. Vernon, WA. Ava is a recent graduate of West Virginia University, and this internship has allowed her to further her education and appreciation for the field. “The Vic and Margaret Ball Internship Program provided me valuable insight and hands-on experience. I am very grateful that I was able to take advantage of this opportunity and learn more about floriculture and myself in the process.”

Meghan BundickJanuary 2021 – July 2021

Meghan one day hopes she can work in a prestigious greenhouse. Until then, she has taken excellent steps to get there by studying Horticulture at West Virginia University and interning for Altman Plants in Payton, CO. “This internship experience was unlike anything I could have imagined,” she noted, “the impact this internship has had on my education is profound. I learned an extraordinary amount of information and performed countless new tasks every week.”

Holly BarrusJanuary 2021 – July 2021

After a six-month internship with Heartland Growers in Westfield, IN, Holly continues to study Horticulture and Urban Agriculture at the University of Idaho. As a student she is motivated to become a reliable expert in Horticulture and looks forward to gaining and utilizing the skills that are needed to make the world a more beautiful place.

Madison FrostMay 2021 – November 2021

Madison Frost spent six months interning with Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, NC. She studies Horticulture at Brigham Young University – Idaho, and knows these skills will come in handy as she plans to run her own greenhouse or nursery eventually. “I learned so much from this internship experience and felt like I really benefited from the opportunity to apply what I learned in school to real-world situations and problems. I left this internship feeling so accomplished and confident in my knowledge and abilities, and I am excited for what the future brings,” she said.

Click here to read student reports and watch their videos.

In addition to placing students with internship opportunities, the Vic & Margaret Ball Internship program encourages university faculty members to visit their students during their internship and will reimburse travel expenses up to $1,000. “Faculty members don’t often get the time and opportunity to visit with the industry, and if we expect them to teach the next generation of industry leaders, they too must visit with growers to learn of challenges to better prepare their students,” says Debi Chedester, AFE Executive Director. 

2021 Mosmiller Internship Recipients

The Mosmiller Internship Program began in 1975 to provide quality professional training for selected, motivated floriculture and environmental horticulture students. Interns train at leading retail, wholesale, or allied trade operations for 10-16 weeks, getting valuable on-the-job work experience. Upon the successful completion of their paid internship, interns will receive a scholarship in the amount of $2,000.

Grace AndersonMay 2021 – August 2021

During her three-month internship with Tiger Garden in Columbia, MO, Grace Anderson re-affirmed her passion for the event world. As she studies Plant Science at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she’s hoping to eventually establish a career in event floral. “This internship made me want to dive into the event world, even more, especially weddings. Because of this internship, obtaining a position like this will be much easier now that I have more experience with all aspects of day-to-day operations of shops as well as what goes into planning and designing weddings and events of all sizes.”

Hannah Brendzen – May 2021 – August 2021

Hanna finds flowers to be the most amazing structures on the planet. While she continues to figure out her career path as she studies Environmental Plant Science Horticulture at Missouri State University, she recognizes the impact this internship experience has made on her and is confident in the doors it will open in the future. “I honestly did not expect to feel the way about floral design that I do after this internship. I love it. This internship has taught me that Flowers connect people. They’re perfect for every occasion; they’re happiness in a glass vase.” Hannah spent her internship with A Moment of Grace Florist in Warrenton, MO.

Click here to read their reports and watch their videos.

AFE’s impactful internship programs build a solid foundation of unparalleled experience with top industry organizations. As we look forward to a year full of potential in 2022, the Endowment is proud to share these positive internship experiences and continue to help prepare more young professionals for successful careers.

The deadline for the next cycle of applications is March 1, 2022. Learn more at endowment.org/internships/.

The health and safety of our interns remains a top priority as we navigate COVID-19. While we encourage students to apply for these internships, we are continuously evaluating the timing of internships and ensuring there are safety protocols in place for our host employers, their staff, and the interns. If your business is looking for interns, or you’d like to sign up to be a host, please contact Candice Musgrove at AFE cmusgrove@afeendowment.org.