Pre-teens and teenagers are interested in protecting the planet. Yet, often they are not especially familiar with or enthusiastic about professional opportunities in horticulture. In fact, some say the word “horticulture” is weird. Or old.
That is the assessment of Susan Yoder, executive director of Seed Your Future, a nonprofit organization working to spark students’ interest in the exciting, diverse, and important world of plants.
Yoder says lack of information about horticulture, or old-fashioned perceptions about the field, often sticks with students. That is, unless they delve into the wide variety of fields working with plants encompasses, including robotics, sports, technology, food, art, and fashion.
Seed Your Future
Seed Your Future promotes the value of plants in such fields as food supply, wildlife habitat, and protecting the health of the planet. The organization encourages educators to include plant-related topics in lesson plans. It offers ideas for interacting with plants in recreational activities. And it inspires students to think about forging futures working with plants.
Often, according to Yoder, teachers feature plants in science lessons until about third grade. After that, classes focus on other scientific themes.
Revving up interest in plants is valuable for supporting the horticulture industry. This is especially important now when not enough qualified professionals are applying for open positions, Yoder says.
The organization works with about 200 partners, including Scholastic, an iconic publishing firm that provides activity sheets and other educational resources for teachers. Seed Your Future also partners with schools, universities, public gardens, horticulture businesses, gardening organizations, youth organizations, and individual advocates.
A campaign powered by Seed Your Future, BLOOM! inspires youth about the value of plants and the many opportunities available to them working with plants — as a hobby or even a career.
We want our educators, public service workers, students, and the general public to view horticulture as a vital, viable, and vibrant career path.” —Seed Your Future
Professions Working With Plants
Yoder says her organization met with educators, parents, and middle school students in various regions of the United States to assess familiarity and interest levels in plant-related topics. “We did focus groups with (sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders) all across the country in urban, suburban, and rural environments,” Yoder says.
For many middle-schoolers, horticulture was unfamiliar, Yoder notes. They didn’t seem especially interested until Seed Your Future representatives pointed out the various ways of working with plants relates to protecting the planet. “They were super-interested then,” she recalls.
Enthusiasm for the horticulture industry also revs up with information about the wide array of plant-focused professions including such unexpected fields as drone flying, overseeing turf in sports arenas, writing, fashion, and art.
Horticulture is the art, technology, business, and science of plants. It is the food we eat, the landscapes we live and play in, the environments we thrive in.” —Seed Your Future
The website features an interactive tool for those interested in exploring the diverse career opportunities in the world of plants. It also includes information on scholarships, internships, and post-high school educational institutions.
Many organizations and businesses offer scholarships to study horticulture, gardening, floriculture, landscape design, urban gardening, and many more options in the world of plants. Some scholarships are for formal education at colleges and universities, others are continuing education and certification programs.” —Seed Your Future
Design an Imaginary Plant: Plant Mash-up Contest
Together, BLOOM! and Scholastic are sponsoring the Plant Mash-up contest, open to youngsters in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Contestants imagine, describe, and draw their own plant hybrid to help resolve a community issue. The event includes prizes for students and their teachers, including a sweepstake in which a randomly selected entry wins. Entries are due March 1, 2021.
Each student’s entry must be submitted by an educator, youth leader, parent, or other eligible adults. Find information and official rules about the Plant Mash-up contest online.
Resources for Parents, Teachers, & More
Free resources are plentiful, including videos, fun activities for families, and ideas to help teachers incorporate plant topics in regular lessons. One example: In arithmetic story problems, replace references to trains traveling with references to seeds sowed.
“Seed Your Future’s premise is that whether BLOOM! introduces today’s youth to a lifelong passion or a fulfilling career, one thing is clear — the more you know about plants, the more you can make a difference in the world today,” Yoder asserts.
- SeedYourFuture.org: Learn about Seed Your Future’s work and find resources for students, parents and families, educators, and employers
- Scholastic.com: BLOOM! has teamed up with Scholastic to create a suite of tools and resources for educators to demystify the field of horticulture
- WeAreBLOOM.org: Resources for parents, teachers, partners, and students, including videos, posters, and a fun quiz to find your plant power
- YouTube: Watch videos about cool careers in horticulture
- Poster for school rooms featuring dozens of professions working with plants, including hydroponics specialist and drone pilot
“Seed Your Future’s premise is that whether BLOOM! introduces today’s youth to a lifelong passion or a fulfilling career, one thing is clear,” Yoder says. “The more you know about plants, the more you can make a difference in the world today.”
Originally published on February 24, 2020, this article was updated in February 2021.