Dollars For Scholars

Dollars For Scholars

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) and OFA — an Association of Floriculture Professionals hosted a roundtable discussion on industry-supported internships and scholarships during the OFA Short Course.

It was an opportunity to become more acquainted with AFE and learn which scholarship and internship funds are available and the processes for applying for them. New to AFE are the 29 FIRST Scholarship Funds, which cover a wide range of needs and professional interests in floriculture. FIRST (Floriculture Industry Research & Scholarship Trust) merged into AFE in July, creating a united organization that is floriculture’s comprehensive endowment for both research and scholarship grants.

FIRST’s strength in scholarships complements AFE’s strength in research and will bring more students into AFE’s educational programs. Both organizations have a strong heritage and the potential to bring industry segments together. AFE already was an $11 million endowment and FIRST was a $1.7 million endowment.One of the strongest AFE funds is the Vic & Margaret Ball Intern Scholarship Fund. Endowed with $800,000 in 1992, the value of the fund is $1,288, 581 today. Over the last 14 years, it has funded 123 scholarships valued at $547,500.

Dr. Terry Ferriss of the University of Wisconsin presented an overview of this program as one of the faculty reviewers. Former Ball intern Kelly Bull of the University of Georgia shared her experiences working for a cut flower grower in California.

Then the floor was open for all attendees to share their experiences with internship programs. Faculty shared how they prepare students to apply for internships.

There was no dispute on the value of an internship. One grower said not having an internship probably cost him 10 years of his professional life. Statistics also show graduates enter the workforce at a higher salary if they have had professional experience offered in an internship. Being able to start at a higher salary would make up for delaying graduation for a semester.

For more information on contributing to AFE, contact Amy Ligibel at 618-692-0045 or afe@endowment.org.

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