I have been hanging around this Greenhouse Grower group for a bazillion years. Ok, not quite that many, but for at least 33 years, and a few more than that prior to being drafted by Meister Media Worldwide. I will not assail you with all the changes I have seen, but I have been buffeted by the storms of despair and elevated by the winds of hope. And there have been plenty of both.
One of the constant despair topics, regardless of the decade, is our gnashing of teeth about the lack of young people coming into the industry. I have listened, I have heard, and I still don’t believe. They are there, they are keen, and they are smart.
Here are a couple of “kids” who are ready to do great things. They have the juice.
I hung out with Tyler Beasley at California Spring Trials (CAST). He was the first recipient of the Armitage Scholarship for CAST, with support from Kemin Crop Technologies. Overwhelmed at first, he quickly grasped the importance of the trials, but more importantly, he recognizes the opportunities in this industry. He spoke to many participants and industry leaders, and he impressed and was impressed in all interactions. Tyler may be the face of our future — young, responsible, smart, curious, and involved. And there are many more Tylers out there, we just need to get them out of the classroom and into our greenhouses.
Not everyone gets a chance to hobnob with the rich and famous at CAST, but there are so many “kids” who are keen to bite into the horticulture apple. Give them a taste, and they will always find their way.
I met Ben Ackerley a few years ago when he was visiting family in Athens. He was obviously enthusiastic about this horticulture thing, but was struggling as to what to do and how to do it. While I could tell that he was a little confused, I could see that he also had the right stuff. I believed then that once a few paths crossed his way, he would find the correct one for his particular talents, and he has. Today he is the Garden Manager of Woodlands Garden, a new public garden in Decatur, GA. He is having a ball, and eating it up. He is another face of our business — another young, curious, and smart young person.
From my first class at the University of Georgia in Atlanta what seems like a millennium ago to this very day, I go out of my way to meet, encourage, and guide when asked. I have touched the future, and I have yet to be disappointed. Perhaps we should all extend our hands. We might be pleasantly surprised.