Another up and comer in the horticulture industry has been awarded the Richard T. Meister Scholarship through the American Floral Endowment (AFE). Lesley Judd, a Ph.D. student at North Carolina State University (NC State) is the 2014 recipent of the $4,000 scholarship. She is the second recipent of the scholarship, which was offered for the first time in 2013.
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.
The American Floral Endowment’s impact on Judd’s career has been twofold, as it has supplied a grant for her research, as well as provided the scholarship. This has allowed Judd to pay for tutition and travel to industry events and conferences, allowing her to make connections to other industry members.
An Aspiring Teacher
Judd is pursuing a Ph.D. in horticultural science with a minor in soil science and aspires to work at a land-grant university teaching horticulture and researching.
Judd first became interested in horticulture when she was in high school, where her first job was working at a greenhouse in her home state of Michigan. After high school, she attended Michigan State University (MSU), where she earned a bachelor of science degree in horticulture, specializing in landscape design.
While at MSU, Judd got a job in floriculture research, working in the university’s research greenhouse. There, she was able to work alongside graduate and post-doctoral students, and it led her to become interested in research. Judd thought she might want to be a greenhouse technician at a university.
After finishing her undergraduate degree, Judd was accepted to NC State. As a graduate student there, she was required to be a teaching assistant.
“I found out that I really enjoy teaching, as well,” she says. “I always knew I was going to work in the industry, but I didn’t really have teaching on my mind until I had the experience. I just really enjoy passing on knowledge, and seeing students passionate about horticulture and how excited they are.”
Judd earned her master’s degree from NC State, where she studied root growth analysis in alternative substrates for greenhouse operations and pine tree substrates as alternative substrates for greenhouses. While pursuing her Ph.D, Judd is continuing to study horticultural substrates, investigating using biochar in greenhouses.
Judd wanted to pursue advanced degrees so she could follow her passion for teaching and doing research. She hopes to work at a land grant university or a research job in the industry, while working with Extension, as well.
Horticulture Is A Diverse Industry
Judd believes that showing the diverse career options available in the industry is one way we can recruit more young people into the industry.
From growing, to business, to marketing — there’s many different career options, she says. Plus, she believes that having a good knowledge about horticulture practices can have a positive impact on the environment.
“Knowing about horticulture can make the world a better place,” Judd says.
Making students aware of the programs available to them, such as AmericanHort’s HortScholars, could work to draw in more students, as well. Judd says those types of programs need to be promoted more within universities, so more students know their options.
For those who have already developed an interest in horticulture, Judd’s advice is to “follow your passion and figure out what you love to do. No matter what kind of career you’re looking for, it’s going to have a great impact on the future.”
About The Scholarship
Applications are now being accepted for the Richard T. Meister Scholarship, which will be offered in 2015 to graduate students in floriculture intending to pursue their careers in the land grant university system with interest in research, Extension or teaching.
The $4,000 scholarship is awared annually and administered by the American Floral Endowment (AFE).
Jared Barnes, assistant professor of horticulture at Stephen F. Austin State University, was the first recipient of the Richard T. Meister Scholarship in 2013. He graduated with a Ph.D. in horticultural science from North Carolina State University. Barnes is also a garden writer and speaker.
Dick Meister built upon his family’s business in publishing magazines for specialized agriculture. As a graduate of Cornell University’s horticulture program, he is a strong supporter of the land grant college system and through the years worked closely with many industry leaders. Meister is the editor-at-large and chairman emeritus of Meister Media Worldwide, Greenhouse Grower’s parent company.
Online applications are due May 1 of each year. For more information, visit Endowment.org/scholarships.