GROW Perspective: Why I Give Back To The Industry

Ken Altman

If you’re reading this, you must have a strong connection with the floral industry, but our industry is sadly underfunded. By doing your part to give back, you help this problem and leave a legacy of support for the green industry. Do not wait for someone else to provide all the support. It is up to each of us to strengthen our industry.

Without industry members making thoughtful donations, researchers have a difficult time attaining the necessary funds to conduct the research that improves all of our businesses. Giving back to the industry enables organizations to help fund research focused on pest and disease control, cut flowers, effects of light, growth regulation and post harvest techniques. Research leads to longer-lasting flowers and more profits for everyone.

AFE Funds Research And Grants And Provides Students With Industry Scholarships

Because of these reasons, I began contributing to the American Floral Endowment (AFE) years ago, and today I serve on the Board of Trustees as treasurer/secretary.

AFE provides grants to university researchers and scholarships to students. The Endowment is focused on the future and is working to introduce a new generation of supporters to floriculture. By offering more than 20 scholarships annually and administering two paid internship programs, AFE helps prepare the next generation of qualified industry leaders.

AFE is also focused on helping young people who are not involved in the floral industry develop a lifelong appreciation for flowers. For example, through the Floral Marketing Research Fund, AFE is currently funding a research project with UC-Davis Plant Sciences professor Heiner Lieth, Ph.D., about improving flower use by college students (see the May 2014 Greenhouse Grower article, “Students At The University Of California, Davis, Are Eager To Learn About And Buy Flowers”). Lieth recently completed a successful test run of the project, and the initial results were hopeful. Full results will be released to the industry once the project is complete.

Research is at the heart of the Endowment, and AFE is funding $440,000 in research for 2014-2015 alone. Much of the current knowledge used to grow plants and flowers has come from research funded in part or entirely by AFE, including the three C’s checklist for optimal post-harvest handling of cut flowers.

Funded Research Helps Your Business And The Industry

We can only encourage universities to support research in our field if each and every industry member shows interest by donating. AFE is a major contributor to university research and has helped researchers at all stages of their careers. Altman Plants takes particular interest in research as it is published and as it relates to our products, and we have increased our quality and yield while decreasing our cost of production by doing so. We also call upon researchers for help at our operation when their specialties relate to any issues we experience.

Why You Should Contribute

Only interest generated from contributions to AFE is spent, never your initial contribution. Whatever you contribute becomes part of the Endowment, and the proceeds are used for years to come. You can also name a fund in honor of your company or a person who has helped or inspired you throughout your career.

By making either a one-time donation or an annual pledge commitment to become a Friend of the Endowment, you are investing in the continued success of the industry and are leaving your mark on the industry. A stronger Endowment means a stronger industry for everyone.

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