American Floral Endowment Announces Its 2016 Scholarship Winners

Jaclyn Nelson
Jaclyn Nelson, Jacob and Rita Van Namen Marketing Scholarship Recipient

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently announced it has awarded 17 students in 2016 with scholarships totaling more than $35,000.

“Thanks to the generosity of donors, AFE is able to distribute more than 20 scholarships each year to deserving and well-qualified students. These students are worthy of our recognition and support,” says Dwight Larimer, AFE Chairman-Elect and Education Committee Chair.

“Each of the scholarship recipients gives us a glimpse of our industry’s bright future, and I believe that all of the applicants are passionate leaders who will help the industry progress.”

More than 65 applications were received for this scholarship cycle. AFE awards scholarships annually, and applications are due by May 1 of each year. Scholarship descriptions, including complete donor information, are available at

Here’s a look at all of this year’s winners.

American Florists’ Exchange Scholarship Recipient: Erin Hsu, University of California-Davis

Hsu is a senior studying environmental horticulture with a focus on floriculture, and wants to work in the floral design industry.

“I would like to work in floral design or production, since my main interest is in the aesthetic aspect of ornamental crops and how they affect our environment and direct surroundings,” Hsu says.

Julio and Sarah Armellini Scholarship Recipient: Terah Kalk, University of Florida

A senior majoring in anthropology, Kalk is interested in investigating the preferences and needs of consumers regarding horticulture.

“I utilize psychophysics to gather information on what the population is interested in pertaining to horticulture and floriculture,” says Kalk, who plans to enter a Ph.D. program to continue her research.

Ball Horticultural Company Scholarship Recipient: Gray Simpson, University of Georgia

A University of Georgia (UGA) senior majoring in horticulture, Simpson hopes to become head grower at a greenhouse production operation. He is Vice President of the UGA Horticulture Club.

“I am interested in new and unusual taxa, as well as emerging production techniques such as automation, water re-use, and controlling bloom time in herbaceous perennial plants,” Simpson says.

Harold Bettinger Scholarship Recipient: Nathan Nordstedt, The Ohio State University

Nordstedt is a graduate student whose research focuses on molecular genetics in floriculture crop improvement.

“My goal is to enter the public sector in floriculture crop education, working at a university where I can make a difference in the education of young professionals in the floriculture industry and continue my research,” Nordstedt says.

BioWorks IPM/Sustainable Practices Scholarship Recipient/ National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association (NGMA) Scholarship Recipient: Alexander Schaller, University of Arizona

Schaller is a senior with a double major in sustainable plant systems and agriculture economics and management. He is interested in ornamental and floriculture crop breeding and crop physiology.

“After I receive an advanced degree, I will continue to find ways to improve methods, production, and distribution of goods in the field of floriculture,” Schaller says.

James Bridenbaugh Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Courtney Phillips, University of Georgia

A senior studying horticulture at the University of Georgia (UGA), Phillips was elected as President of the UGA Horticulture Club and is particularly interested in floral design.

“After graduation, I plan to work in a large design facility and eventually have my own florist shop. I want people to see the positive impact that the green industry has on our society,” Phillips says.

Emily Teng
Emily Teng

John Carew Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Emily Teng, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Teng is a graduate student whose research project analyzes anthocyanin qualities in poinsettia bracts in response to changes in temperature, light intensity, and plant growth regulator use.

“After receiving my doctorate, I would like to work in floriculture production and variety improvement research. I hope to work in a university as an educator, but no matter what position I have, I want my work to connect scientific research with practical industry applications,” Teng says.

Carlson-Johnson Scholarship for Nontraditional Students Recipient/Long Island Flower Growers Association (LIFGA) Scholarship Recipient: Ariel Churnin, State University of New York-Farmdale

Churnin is completing her associate’s degree in landscape development and is interested in urban gardening and design, with a plant-based approach.

“My academic work and hands-on experience have contributed to my desire to work in landscaping in metro areas where I can promote sustainability and native species,” Churnin says.

Earl Dedman Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Steven Wagner, University of Florida

Wagner is a senior studying at the University of Florida’s West Florida Research and Education Center. He is majoring in plant science and minoring in soil and water science, and has worked as a nursery manager and landscaper.

“My goal is to operate my own wholesale nursery,” Wagner says. “My specific interest is in evaluating varieties for their use in residential and commercial landscapes throughout Florida’s Gulf Coast, which imposes a unique set of challenges with its long, hot summers and high disease and insect pressure.”

Markham-Colegrave International Scholarship Recipient: Angel Matthews, University of Missouri-Columbia

Matthews is a sophomore majoring in biological engineering and minoring in chemical engineering.

“My crop focus area is in agricultural engineering. I hope to find different crops and enhance their nutrition or yield for countries that suffer from nutrient deficiencies. I will do whatever I can to help conserve the bio hotspots left in the world,” Matthews says.

Josh Henry, North Carolina State University
Josh Henry

Richard T. Meister Scholarship Recipient: Joshua Henry, North Carolina State University

Henry is a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in horticultural science. His crop focus is in bedding plants and flowering pot plants, specifically floriculture crop nutrition.

“I find crop nutrition incredibly fascinating and complex, so I am excited to study the major issues relating to the nutrition of floriculture crops. I hope to work in a university setting in Extension, where I can help growers diagnose problems and share with them research findings,” Henry says. Learn more about Henry in this Q&A.

Mike and Flo Novovesky Scholarship Recipient: Katlyn Major, Utah State University

Major, a junior studying plant science with a horticultural emphasis, is particularly interested in fruit crops including orchards, use of high tunnels, and greenhouse plants.

“I plan to own and operate an orchard and greenhouse and provide services to the community that help them preserve produce,” Major says.

Lawrence “Bud” Ohlman Memorial Scholarship Recipient/John L. Tomasovic Sr. Scholarship Recipient: Mary Lewis, University of Georgia

Entering her senior year, Lewis is majoring in horticulture with a focus on greenhouse production. She has pursued several internships, including one with the French Heritage Society where she learned horticultural practices of different cultures and countries. This summer, she is an intern at the Disney Horticulture Production Facility in Lake Buena Vista, FL, through the AFE Vic & Margaret Ball Internship Program.

“After I graduate, I would like to work in greenhouse production or floriculture. I hope to work in bedding, where there is a high expectation in excellence,” Lewis says.

Qiu Xia Chen
Qiu Xia Chen

Seed Companies Scholarship Recipient: QiuXia Chen, Michigan State University

Chen is pursuing her master’s degree in plant breeding, genetics, and biotechnology (horticulture). Her research focuses on the genetic mapping of flowering and branching traits in petunias.

“My career goal is to be a plant breeder for annual and perennial crops and to incorporate outreach to share what I learn, especially with middle and high school students so that they become interested in floriculture,” Chen says.

Edward Tuinier Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Melissa Eggleston, Michigan State University

Eggleston is a sophomore at Michigan State University (MSU) majoring in horticulture and minoring in agribusiness, and is Treasurer of the Student Horticulture Association at MSU. She hopes to become a greenhouse grower after graduation.

“I hope to have a greenhouse growing operation specializing in herbs,” Eggleston says. “I envision that the green industry will continue to grow as companies and members find new niches and markets to fill.”

Jacob and Rita Van Namen Marketing Scholarship Recipient: Jaclyn Nelson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Nelson is a senior majoring in horticulture-entrepreneurship and minoring in agribusiness. She is owner of Marie’s Floral in Wallace, NE. She interned last summer at Tessfresh Flowers in San Diego, CA, and this summer she is working at Bachman’s in Minnesota.

“I look forward to gaining the experience and education I need to make my business a success and then expand my business into the high-end weddings and events market,” Nelson says.

Vocational (Bettinger, Holden and Perry) Scholarship Recipient: Caitlin Redpath, City College of San Francisco

Redpath is a senior pursuing her associate’s degree in commercial cut flower and greenhouse production, with a minor in floral design. Her crop focus is on commercial cut flowers, with an emphasis on unusual and unique flowers and those that are native, drought tolerant or otherwise beneficial crops for local ecosystem/environment.

“I dream of being a farmer-florist, and being part of a changing floriculture industry that takes into account the health of crops, workers, waterways and our soil,” Redpath says.

To learn more about AFE or make a tax-deductible contribution, visit

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