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Jazmin Albarran, Seed Your Future

"The industry’s connection with college and high-school students is vital for the growth of the industry”

"Covid-19 made students more interested in plants and plant-related careers. It's really fun to see students realize that there is marketing, and communication in this industry, and how diverse it is. However, we realize that here in the United States people are still not aware of all the automation, logistics, marketing, and technique that is involved in this industry. We highlight the diversity and international character of this industry to make students, parents, and teachers aware of the possibilities this sector has to offer," states Jazmin Albarran, Executive Director at Seed Your Future. In this article, she tells more about the background of Seed Your Future, and the initiatives that this organization has undertaken to address the issue of labor shortage in the horticulture sector.

Jazmin Albarran, Executive Director at Seed Your Future

A professors-initiative
Worried about the labor shortages in the horticultural industry, horticultural professors in the US sought a way to help the industry. To do so they set up a study, as part of their research they contacted industry professionals, students and the public to get a better insight into the labor shortages issue. One recurring result of the industry is that students and their parents have little knowledge about the horticultural industry. Moreover, their negative perception of the industry is one major factor that prevents young people to start a career in the horticulture domain. The horticultural professors' research led to the foundation of Seed Your Future in 2014. "Unlike other organizations we are concerned with all kinds of sectors within the broader horticultural industry including florist, landscape and administrative careers," Jazmin adds.

An information hub supported by industry-partners
Seed Your Future aims to be a hub where students, parents, and teachers can find more information about horticulture careers. To that end the Seed Your Future website lists 140 careers and their accompanying job profiles. The job profiles provide details regarding the education/training needed for a certain career, salary expectations, examples of professional organizations, and videos and testimonials. Similarly, the website offers information on internships and scholarships.

Seed Your Future at the Society of American Florists' Annual Convention

To make the horticultural sector more appealing to younger generations Seed Your Future forged partnerships with industry partners, Jazmin comments: "We need the help from partners to connect with the younger generation. Not only because we are a non-profit organization, but because the industry's connection with college and high-school students is vital for the growth of the industry. The more students are aware of what you do, and how you do it, the more likely that they will come to you for a job. We have for instance partnered with the Society of American Florists (SAF) for three years to connect students with the floral industry. Someone needs to make students aware of their career possibilities in the floral and horticulture sectors. It's for this reason that we organize the Green Career Week, a week to help horticultural companies building relationships with educational organizations."

An impression of the Green Career Week

For educators, the organization also offers prepared lessons that can be downloaded for free, a career test for students, and a YouTube channel with videos on horticultural careers that they can show in the classroom. Seed Your Feature also arranges school trips and class-room presentations. In addition, there is Seed to STEM, a professional development program for high-school teachers: "Through this immersive experience we want to make it easier for teachers to guide students with their careers. We will give them tours of different horticultural businesses, and each teacher will create a lesson based on this. We are committed to do it for at least three years. This program is one of the results of the cooperation with our partners, otherwise we wouldn't be able to manage this 125 dollar program," Jazmin elaborates. The program will take place from June 2 to June 6 2024.

Ongoing developments
Jazmin gives some insight in which careers have students' interest, saying: "Students really like IT-related jobs, but also those that are concerned with business and logistics. I actually was surprised how much more enthusiastic they become about plant-jobs when they realize that their jobs involve some travelling. We also find that young-people are really interested in sustainability as they seem to realize that plants can be a solution to climate change and its challenges."

She concludes: "In the fall we will start a research-project that aims to learn more about what makes an internship valuable for students. We expect that the results of this research will provide us with tools that help the industry to create interesting partnerships. The research will be focused on the US, but I think that this information is also of great value for other countries. I think that labor shortages in the horticultural industry is almost a global phenomenon, students and parents are just not aware of the possibilities. In that respect, I would like to mention that our teaching material and services can be equally used by teachers and companies outside the US."

For more information:
Seed Your Future