Susan E. Yoder, Executive Director, Seed Your Future
It’s an uneasy time in horticulture. Many in the industry are aging and retiring. Employers across the industry cannot find enough qualified candidates to fill their open positions. Certification programs, training programs, and college and university horticulture programs are not growing – and in many cases, declining. This issue is not simply about the strength of our industry, it is about the future of the planet. The crisis comes as we consider — who will take the reins and have the expertise to provide the technology, science, art and business acumen necessary to meet the rapidly increasing demand for ornamentals, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs in our world?
The answer is you.
It’s you, and me, and other horticulture professionals, and frankly, everyone who already knows that the fate of our world lies in the next generation embracing the importance of plants not only to humans, but to animals, and to Earth. Our job is to show others the way, and inspire more people to purse “green collar” careers.
So, how do we do it? You’re busy with your own company, workload, community and family. That’s where collaboration and the Seed Your Future movement can help. “Planted” in 2014, Seed Your Future was formed by a partnership of horticulture companies, gardening organizations, schools, colleges and universities, public gardens and youth organizations who are united by the mission to promote horticulture and inspire more people to pursue careers working with plants.
We spent three years conducting research which today serves as a foundation for the work that officially launched in 2018. Kids told us they don’t know what “horticulture” is. After we told them, they told us to stop using “weird” words like “horticulture”, show them through video and social media content how plants can change the world, and have “cool” young people tell them about their fun (#ILoveMyPlantJob) careers.
Seed Your Future’s BLOOM! (www.WeAreBLOOM.org) campaign was launched in the spring of 2018, and we’ve already reached 4 million students. Anyone can download the free resources at www.Scholastic.com/BLOOM (educator resources) and www.WeAreBLOOM.org/partners (toolkit of materials). That’s promising progress — but a very long “growing season.” You need employees now.
We’re developing our second campaign market — this one focusing on older students. But, how do we cut through the clutter and show them the way to horticulture?
We know that plant careers are rewarding, make a true difference in the world, are creative, inspirational, and more. So, let’s tell our stories and become PR gurus. Let’s learn from what kids told us, and embrace social media, create fun videos, and tell the inspirational stories of the horticulture heroes and plant champions in the world today.(www.seedyourfuture.org/horticultureheroes).
You can join in too. Use all the materials we create and curate from others who are doing terrific things in this area. Join the movement (www.SeedYourFuture.org – it’s free) and use or customize what we have so far.
Together, we can ensure that the next generation is raised to take on green collar careers. I invite you to show them the way.