Floral and horticulture professionals from nearly 70 businesses seized the opportunity to address labor challenges in their industry by participating in Seed Your Future's Green Career Week from February 27 to March 3. The initiative got professionals in classrooms and students in businesses and created a buzz on social media — all in an effort to showcase and cultivate an interest in green careers.
The inaugural Green Career Week took place last fall, with two slated for this year. Last week's event targeted high schoolers, while the next one, Oct. 2-6, will target college students. Seed Your Future's Executive Director, Jazmin Albaran, says that the event is gaining traction, not just in the number of participants but also in the media. She was featured in eight radio interviews last week, one of which was aired nationally.
"It is so important that students know about the careers offered in horticulture and floriculture because we need to ease the labor challenge in our industries with smart, tech-savvy workers," Albaran says. "The response to Green Career Week from participants, students, and even the media has been wonderful."
Chris Drummond, AAF, PFCI, president of Penny's by Plaza Flowers in Philadelphia, participated in Green Career week by speaking to 20 students at The U School in Philadelphia, a vocational school with a department that focuses on careers in agriculture, horticulture, and food service.
Recruiting and retaining employees is reported as a top challenge across all segments, "And we're not going to fix the labor shortage in our industry unless we all become very proactive in finding solutions to the problem," Drummond says. He believes Green Career Week is a vital way to cultivate the next generation of floriculture professionals.
During his two-hour visit, Drummond talked with high school juniors and seniors about the different types of careers they can pursue, as well as the exciting technological advances that have made people more efficient in these roles. To wrap up the presentation, he had students design a vase of roses and take their creations home.
The visit led to several students expressing an interest in mentorship and job opportunities. Drummond plans to work with the school and other local companies to create workplace experiences for these students.
"There are some really cool, rewarding careers in the green industry that are all about the future and sustainability and technology," Drummond says. "And those are things that kids get excited about now. They want to work in a job that's very rewarding, that on a very personal level, they feel like they're doing something good for the environment and something good for society."
Creating these types of experiences can also go a long way toward immersing early career talent into the industry — and it doesn't have to end with students on the high school level.
For college student Olivia Vardy, a creative marketing intern at Details Flowers Software, getting the opportunity to participate in Green Career Week has reinforced her positive experience at the company.
"In the two months I have been at Details, my knowledge about the floral industry has already expanded immensely," Vardy says. "It's been fascinating learning about all of the opportunities within the floriculture and horticulture industry.
During Green Career Week, Details participated in an Instagram takeover, in which the company posted a range of content that included an office tour, a behind-the-scenes glimpse at weekly meetings, and interviews with the CEO. In addition, Details posted videos highlighting interns' experience at the company and what they have learned about the industry.
"I would have never guessed that I would be spending my senior year of university interning for a floral software company in the marketing department," says Vardy. "Over 15 years of education and not once did I learn about the opportunities in this industry."
Albarran says that's why "We need to tell the next generation about the expansive opportunities for a great career in the floral and horticulture fields – whether they're into science, logistics, design, customer service, marketing, sales, growing, technology or so many other facets, there's a fulfilling career in the green industry."
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