American Floral Endowment Awards More Than $36,000 in Scholarships

Megan Haresnape
Megan Haresnape, Kansas State University

American Floral Endowment (AFE) has awarded scholarships totaling $36,500 to 20 students for 2017.

“We had many outstanding students apply for scholarships this year, which is why some scholarships were awarded to two recipients,” says Dwight Larimer, AFE Chairman and Education Committee Chair. “I’m proud to see the high quality of students each year, and I enjoy granting scholarships to these well-deserved students to help them continue their education and become passionate industry leaders.”

AFE awards scholarships annually, and applications are due by May 1 of each year. More details about each available scholarship can be found here.

Here’s a closer look at each of the 2017 scholarship winners.

American Florists’ Exchange Scholarship Recipient: Summer Blanco, California State Polytechnic University – Pomona

Blanco is a junior majoring in biology (botany option) with a minor in agronomy. After completing her bachelor’s and master’s degree, she plans on joining the Peace Corps as an environmental education primary teacher in Nicaragua, which is her family’s native country. Later, she wants to pursue a doctorate degree focusing on projects related to flowering genetics and pollination biology, specifically for the floriculture industry.

“I hope to integrate my research toward the development of products and organisms that improve this industry,” Blanco says.

Julio and Sarah Armellini Scholarship Recipient: Noah Boulds, Murray State University

A junior majoring in horticulture and minoring in agribusiness, Boulds is interested in running his own greenhouse in the future and growing cut flowers for local florists, as well as small vegetable production.

“I want to raise my transplants and also sell spring annuals, mums, poinsettias, and other products,” Boulds says. “I would eventually like to build an aquaponics or hydroponics system to keep my produce in production year-round.”

Ball Horticultural Company Scholarship Recipient: Melissa Eggleston, Michigan State University

A junior majoring in horticulture and minoring in agribusiness management, Eggleston has a goal to become a greenhouse grower at Shenandoah Growers and grow herbs for a living.

“My goal with Shenandoah Growers is to hopefully be asked back after my internship, and potentially have a job as a grower when I graduate,” Eggleston says.

Harold Bettinger Scholarship Recipient: Melinda Knuth, Texas A&M University

Knuth is majoring in horticulture and hopes to become a horticulture professor at a land-grant university in the future. She wants to educate and share research on the health benefits of horticulture.

“I want to help share the message that horticulture is part of every essence of human life and it has more than aesthetic qualities,” Knuth says.

BioWorks IPM/Sustainable Practices Scholarship Recipients: Emily Perry, University of Massachusetts – Amherst and Benjamin Meeks, University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Perry is a sophomore obtaining her bachelor’s degree in sustainable horticulture, and wants to focus on floral material, annuals, and perennials within the green industry. She is interested in eventually becoming an agriculture teacher to educate on floral design and greenhouse management, as well as owning her own successful garden center.

“I am passionate about plants, teaching, and sharing the joys of working in the industry. I want to inspire young adults toward a green industry career,” Perry says.

Meeks will be receiving his bachelor’s degree in plant science (organic production) in December.

“I am studying sustainable, natural, and efficient horticultural/agricultural methods because there are people whose livelihood and sometimes lives depend on knowledge,” Meeks says. “Whether I work in the horticulture industry, consult, or teach at school gardens, my chief plan is to use what I learn through my education in organic production as a means of blessing my neighbors — whether they be in the U.S. or across the globe.”

James Bridenbaugh Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Katelyn Stoops, University of Missouri

A senior studying agribusiness management and plant sciences, Stoops plans to own a floral shop, greenhouse, and event venue after graduate school.

“I would also like to get involved with the local FFA students and youth interested in horticulture in the greenhouse, hosting classes and workshops to further their education and opportunity,” Stoops says.

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

Teng is currently obtaining her Ph.D., and after she receives her doctorate, she plans on working in floriculture production and variety improvement research. She wants her work to connect scientific research with practical industry applications.

“In the future, I would like to obtain a position at a university as an educator and concentrate on research improving ornamental production,” Teng says.

Carlson-Johnson Scholarship for Nontraditional Students Recipient: Brittany Farmer, College of Southern Nevada

Farmer is a sophomore majoring in floral design and has a job as a horticulture technician focusing on indoor plants.

“My career goal is to work in floral design, and I have hopes of entering the growing field in the future,” Farmer says.

Earl Dedman Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Ruqayah Bhuiyan, University of Georgia

A junior majoring in horticulture with an emphasis in science, Bhuiyan hopes to eventually work in the industry for a couple of years, and then pursue a Ph.D. in plant breeding or plant pathology.

“I am interested in the sciences and skills involved in plant breeding,” Bhuiyan says. “I believe that breeding has the ability to benefit and transform the horticulture industry.”

Long Island Flower Growers Association Scholarship Recipient: Sean Halliwell, Farmingdale State College

Halliwell is a junior majoring in horticultural technology management and minoring in biology.

“I have always had an extreme devotion toward plants and plant science,” Halliwell says. “I plan to attend graduate school and hope to one day combine all that I’ve studied in theory and in practice and apply it toward some great importance within the green industry.”

Richard T. Meister Scholarship Recipient: Nathan Nordstedt, The Ohio State University

Nordstedt is currently obtaining his Ph.D. in molecular biology of floriculture crop improvement.

“I plan to pursue a career in the research and development of sustainable technology, particularly for innovative biological products, for the improvement of floriculture crop production systems,”Nordstedt says.

Richard “Dick” Meister built a family business in publishing (Meister Media Worldwide, publisher of Greenhouse Grower magazine) for specialized growers in commercial horticulture. He is a strong supporter of the land-grant college system and through the years worked closely with many horticultural and floricultural leaders. This scholarship is dedicated to the outstanding accomplishments of those in university Extension. 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.

National Greenhouse Manufacturers Association Scholarship Recipient: Jean Yost, University of Georgia

Yost is focusing on widening into the production of microgreens through hydroponic and greenhouse systems, breeding for disease resistance, and assessing ornamental plants to pair with edible landscapes.

“I would like to breed my own cultivar of a plant species that is nutritionally significant to the consumer population,” Yost says.

Mike and Flo Novovesky Scholarship Recipient: Sophia McCusker, North Carolina State University

A sophomore majoring in horticultural science management, McCusker’s career goal is to own a business with an outreach component, working within communities to create gardens and spread knowledge for successfully incorporating edibles into decorative landscapes.

“I want to use my skills to create awareness for using sustainable practices in the green industry,” McCusker says.

Lawrence “Bud” Ohlman Memorial Scholarship Recipient: Krishna Bhattarai, University of Florida

Bhattarai is a Ph.D. student focusing on gerbera daisies whose primary interest has been plant breeding.

“I am destined to work as a breeder in my professional career with a focus on disease resistance,” Bhattarai says. “My goal, as an ornamental breeder, is to contribute to the industry and research community by developing new cultivars and identifying disease-resistant genes and molecular markers.”

James K. Rathmell, Jr. Memorial Scholarship for Horticultural Work/Study Abroad Recipient: Paul Bartley, North Carolina State University

Bartley’s career goal is to become an educator through an academic position or Extension, and to support the industry through basic and applied research.

“Whether in the classroom or on stage at a conference, my goal is to inspire enthusiasm and to provoke critical thinking on important issues in our multifaceted industry,” Bartley says.

Seed Companies Scholarship Recipient: Drew Groezinger, Highland Community College

Groezinger hopes to be a positive advocate for the floriculture and horticulture industry in the future, whether as a floral business distributor, a production farmer, a strong contributor to agri-tourism, or in public relations.

“I believe that each of us needs to be educating the world about the importance of horticulture and the simple fact that we cannot live without it,” Groezinger says.

Ball, Pan-American, Goldsmith, and Syngenta cooperatively sponsor this scholarship.

John L. Tomasovic Sr. Scholarship Recipient: Emily Currens, University of Georgia

Entering her junior year, Currens is majoring in horticulture and wants to be a greenhouse manager focusing on production.

“My main goal in the floriculture industry is to be an integral part of a greenhouse operation,” Currens says.

Edward Tuinier Memorial Scholarship Recipients: Melissa Eggleston and Anthony Soster, Michigan State University

Eggleston’s careers goals are mentioned above. Soster is a junior majoring in horticultural science and focusing on floriculture/bedding crops.

“I hope to further the field of floriculture through lifelong learning and education,” Soster says. “I want to get people as excited about horticulture as I am, and show people that working hard and getting your hands dirty can be one of the most gratifying ways to work.”

Jacob and Rita Van Namen Marketing Scholarship Recipient: Megan Haresnape, Kansas State University

With a major in horticultural production and a minor in agribusiness, Haresnape hopes to spend most of her time working with the production and marketing of native plants.

“Through proper marketing techniques and educational classes, I believe that it is possible to make an impact and help consumers have happier, healthier gardens,” Haresnape says.

Vocational (Bettinger, Holden and Perry) Scholarship Recipient: Drew Groezinger, Highland Community College

Groezinger’s career goals are mentioned above.

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