More than 125 businesses registered to take part in Seed Your Future’s inaugural Green Career Week, held Oct. 3 to 7. The event gave professionals in the floriculture and horticulture industries an opportunity to speak to students about careers in their field and plant seeds for a budding new workforce. Participants talked with students at their schools or invited them to visit their business and promoted careers on social media throughout the week.
Professionals who took part in the event emphasized the power and importance of coming together to build tomorrow’s workforce. They were able to make lasting connections in their communities for mentorships, internships, and eventually jobs.
Alyson Upshaw, social media manager at Ball Horticultural Company and three of her colleagues spoke with students at West Chicago High School. In their 15-minute presentations, they talked about careers in marketing, sales, logistics, and research and development. Each discussed their unique perspective about the field and how they contribute to it.
"I think it’s going to be essential for our industry to engage this next generation, whether it’s high school or college, because to keep us fresh, to keep us thriving as an industry, we need that young talent,” said Upshaw.
Ball also gave the school young plants to grow in their greenhouse and plan to have the students spend a day touring their facilities and learning more about different careers.
Jeff Lanman, executive director at International Floral Distributors, a marketing company owned by wholesalers, spoke to students in a horticulture business class at Tri Junior-Senior High School in Straughn, Indiana.
In addition to making connections with students, the event helped Lanman form relationships with three agriculture instructors. He plans to stay in touch with them and schedule future classroom visits — an experience he thinks industry professionals should engage in regularly.
Jeanne Boes, general manager at the San Francisco Flower Market, spent Green Career Week working with the city’s school district to plan activities for the coming months, including having middle schoolers tour the market and high schoolers participate in a mentorship program.
“The goal is twofold: The students definitely benefit if they’re able to find a career they’re passionate about in the floral industry,” she says. “And then, on the flip side, the small businesses that are either tenants or customers of the market have a whole new generation of people who live and work in San Francisco as a source of labor.”
Green Career Week is one of many efforts Seed Your Future has undertaken to help build tomorrow’s workforce. In conjunction with the American Floral Endowment, Seed Your Future is also conducting a survey to collect information about salaries in the green industries.
Click here to take the survey.
The next Green Career Week is scheduled for Feb. 27 to March 3. Learn more about the event here.