The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently awarded scholarships totaling more than $37,000 to 17 undergraduate and graduate students across the country. The scholarships are intended for sophomore through graduate-level college students pursuing degrees in floriculture and horticultural fields.
More than 75 applications were received for this scholarship cycle. AFE awards scholarships annually, and applications are due by May 1 of each year.
One of the scholarships is the Richard T. Meister Scholarship ($4,000), named for Dick Meister, the namesake of Greenhouse Grower’s parent company, Meister Media Worldwide. This year’s winner is Garrett Owen, a doctoral student at Purdue University who aspires to continue his research in floriculture, with the ultimate goal of serving as an educator for the industry’s future.
Owen first became interested in horticulture during high school.
“I enjoyed learning and working with plants to the point where my father and I built a backyard greenhouse,” Owen says. “This sparked my interest to start a greenhouse business, and with the help of my family, I grew from a single backyard greenhouse to three production greenhouses.”
Attending North Carolina State University (NCSU) as an undergraduate and graduate student kept Owen highly involved in horticulture. He became passionate about floriculture during his graduate career at both NCSU and Purdue University.
“Going on greenhouse grower Extension visits really taught me more about environmental and cultural diagnostics, growers, the floriculture industry, and the career I chose,” Owen says.
Owen’s specific area of research is vegetative perennial propagation. He has also previously worked in greenhouse substrates and substrate alternatives; plant nutrition; plant growth regulation and management; light (intensity and quality); and supplemental, photoperiodic, and end-of-production LED lighting of floriculture crops.
“My career interest and goal is to become a floriculture Extension specialist and professor, so it goes without saying that the next phase of my career is dedicated to Extension, outreach, and service,” Owen says. “I plan to mentor undergraduate and graduate students, conduct innovative research, assist growers, and provide technical service and information.”
When asked what he likes most about the industry, Owen says it’s the ability to learn.
“The industry and the people who make this industry are great. They are growers, teachers, innovators, and researchers. There is always something new to learn and something new to teach and help others.”
About The Richard T. Meister Scholarship
Dick Meister is the namesake of Meister Media Worldwide, having helped build a family business in publishing for specialized growers in commercial horticulture. He is a strong supporter of the land-grant college system and through the years has worked closely with many horticultural and floricultural leaders. Meister is also the editor-at-large and chairman emeritus of Meister Media Worldwide.
The Meister Scholarship is open to graduate students in floriculture intending to pursue their career in the land-grant university system with interest in research, Extension, or teaching.
Previous winners include Jared Barnes, assistant professor of horticulture at Stephen F. Austin University, and Lesley Judd, who was a Ph.D. at North Carolina State University when she won the scholarship in 2014.