Talk to the five graduate students selected to receive this year’s AFE Paul Ecke Jr. and Altman Family scholarships, and some common themes quickly emerge. They are self-described plant nerds with a passion for horticulture—and enthusiastic advocates for their chosen field.
Young as they are, they are already leaders, with an impressive record of volunteer activity. Each of them is also a well-rounded individual who pays attention to soft skills like communication and time management.
More than most students, they have the benefit of real-life experience (because they took initiative to seek it out) that informs their understanding and their sense of purpose.
As dedicated graduate students, they are engaged in research projects that promise real, near-future results: improved crops or growing techniques, with both economic and environmental benefits.
All of them, undoubtedly, have felt an impact from the COVID-19 pandemic on their studies—but they are rolling with the punches and moving unfazed toward bright futures in horticulture and floriculture.