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YPC LogoAFE hosts regular webinars for our Young Professionals Council (YPC), which are open to the public. Established in 2015, the YPC offers leadership and networking opportunities for young industry professionals while getting involved in volunteer opportunities within the floral/horticultural industries.

YPC members participate in online and in-person meetings, webinars, and other networking opportunities to share ideas, collaborate with influential industry members, and help promote careers in the floral industry.

The YPC webinars promote personal and professional growth with topics including career advice, networking tips, leadership, and more. YPC Membership Form


New Personal Leadership Course for Young Professionals – Free of Charge! 

“Personal leadership is the process of keeping your vision and values before you and aligning your life to be congruent with them.”- Stephen Covey
Launch into 2023 with a fresh look at your leadership skills! Join us for this four-session, two-week course to learn more about your unique strengths (and weaknesses) and develop a plan to maximize your professional potential. You will develop the tools necessary to articulate your values and align them with your professional goals through lectures, group activities, and independent exercises. 
Each interactive session will be an hour long and include access to paid resource/assessment tool, Gallup Strengths Finder. These resources are provided free of charge for the attendees thanks to sponsorship from Smithers-Oasis. This course is being presented as a part of the American Floral Endowment’s Young Professionals Council (YPC) and is aimed at budding young professionals and students.
All sessions are at 4:00pm Eastern. 

  • January 31st – Session 1: Defining Personal Leadership
    • Gallup Strengths Finder (fee for assessment sponsored by Smithers-Oasis)
  • February 2nd – Session 2: Understanding Your Strengths and Leadership Style
  • February 7th – Session 3: Determining Personal Core Values and Vision
  • February 9th – Session 4:  Requesting and Implementing Feedback 

This program was presented by Laura Walsh, Director of Marketing for Smithers-Oasis North America and moderated by Melinda Knuth, YPC Advisor and Assistant Professor at NC State University. 

Laura Walsh
Director of Marketing at Smithers-Oasis

Laura Walsh is the Director of Marketing for Smithers-Oasis North American Floral. She joined the floral industry almost five years ago and brings over 17 years of marketing experience. Laura has her business undergraduate degree and her MBA from Kent State University.   Over the years, Laura has taught marketing courses at the collegiate level and enjoys coaching and mentoring young business professionals. Laura resides near Smithers-Oasis’ corporate headquarters in Kent, Ohio. She is married to her husband Tim, has a collection of fur babies, and enjoys yoga and floral design.

Dr. Melinda Knuth
Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University & YPC Advisor to the AFE Board

Dr. Melinda Knuth is currently an Assistant Professor in Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. Dr. Knuth teaches Greenhouse Management, Floriculture Production, Floral Design, and Horticulture Marketing. Dr. Knuth received her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in Horticultural Science with a certificate in Applied Statistics. From there, she was a postdoctoral research associate at University of Florida in the Food & Resource Economics Department. She currently serves as the Young Professional Council Advisor for American Floral Endowment’s Executive Board. Dr. Knuth received GPN Magazine’s 40 under 40 award in 2021 and a 2017 AmericanHort Scholar.

Returning to In-Person Events: Networking Tips and Tricks for Industry Events

April 14th, 2022 at 4PM (EST)

Speakers: Laura Shinall and Melanie Spilbeler, Managing Partners at FreshPath Marketing

Moderator: Karin Krause, Manager of Communications & Outreach, American Floral Endowment

Description: Learn how to make the most of trade shows, conferences, and more as a budding young professional in the floral industry. Nervous about returning to events after the lull during COVID-19? Optimize your next in-person event with pointers from this webinar whether as a first-timer or a regular attendee. This session will discuss networking tips and tricks from making a strong introduction and putting your best foot forward to follow-up post-event. Learn how to create and maintain lasting connections to aid in both your personal and professional development moving forward.

Marketing and communications experts, Laura Shinall and Melanie Spilbeler, Managing Partners of FreshPath Marketing, will lead a fully interactive session for young professionals to answer questions on networking and making the most of industry events. During this session, attendees will participate directly with the speakers and ask questions to prepare for attending upcoming events

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Career Insights: Survey Results and Advice from Both Industry and Academia for Young Professionals

November 16th, 2021, at 4:00 PM EST

Megan Bowman, Ball Horticultural Company
Kimberly Williams, Kansas State University
Michael Wijesinghe, Bell Nursery and YPC Member

In August and September of 2021, the American Floral Endowment created two informal surveys for professionals in the industry and academia about their experiences and advice to help young professionals interested in pursuing a career in floriculture/horticulture. The surveys include insights on the job market, career development, application advice, background on how professionals attained their current roles, and more. The surveys were released to AFE’s community of faculty, donors, and industry members.

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Preparing for Success – Challenges and Opportunities for Young Professionals Post COVID-19

Young Professionals Banner

May 26, 2021, at 5:00 PM EST

Art VanWingerden, Metrolina Greenhouses
Krystal Snyder, Penn State University

Megan Bowman, Ball Horticultural Company

Do you have the necessary skills to succeed in today’s floral industry? Join us for a 40-minute interactive discussion hearing directly from floral business owners and faculty on the challenges and changes brought by COVID-19. Learn what the new floral industry looks like, and what young professionals must do to prepare for a successful career in the industry and/or university system.

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