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A Letter from Board Member Dean Kopsell

It's All About Leaving a Legacy

My name is Dean Kopsell and I am the chair of the Environmental Horticulture Department in UF/IFAS.  I have served on the NHF board for 2 years, but my interactions with NHF and the other board members began while I was on the interview for my position back in the spring of 2017.  That is when I first met Joe Cialone.  As most of you who know Joe can attest, that is when my recruitment to NHF began.  Joe and his wife gave me a ride from MREC in Apopka up to the main campus in Gainesville during my interview.  The 2-hour drive was full of lively conversation and backgrounds on the green industry in Florida.  The one thing I remember most was Joe’s passion for horticulture and for industry colleagues that had become his life-long friends.  Joe described the legacy that NHF represented for him and for many others who have given so generously to the endowment.  I had grown up in the horticulture industry in Illinois, so I knew how tight-knit folks can be in horticulture and how plants become a common bond.  The Marshall, Strode, Hackney, and Parrish families were as welcoming and generous as the industry members of my youth in the mid-west.  In short, I felt like I had found a second home in Florida. 


My unique position as department chair and board member lets me experience the passion of donors, the service and stewardship of the board members, and see the impacts funding has on recipients.  Joe Cialone always talks about the legacy donors are having on the industry that provided so much for them and their families.  That legacy is borne out many times over in projects NHF supports for IFAS faculty like Dr. Tom Yeager, Dr. Celina Gomez, and Dr. Richard Beeson.  That legacy is also in Ms. Shea Keene, who’s graduate studies are supported by an NHF fellowship.  NHF also supports the training of the next generation of the industry through undergraduate scholarships.  Students and researchers close the loop by giving back to the industry that has so generously supported their education and work. 


This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the poinsettia sale run by the Environmental Horticulture student club.  The students take great pride in growing, marketing, and selling the poinsettias.  Everyone on campus and in the community looks forward to selecting the best poinsettias for the holidays.  The UF president, Dr. Kent Fuchs, stopped by the sale last year.  He came over to me and commented on how great it was to carry on the tradition of the sale, even during the pandemic.  Dr. Fuchs exclaimed,  "The greenhouse full of beautiful poinsettia is exactly what people needed.  Students who participate in the annul sale all leave a legacy, with proceeds going to fund the next year’s crop.  It is a tradition that will endure beyond another quarter century, with new students taking the lead each year."   


It is an honor to be a part of the NHF board.  Your generous contributions are leaving a legacy by supporting the future of the industry and the training the next generation of horticulturalists.      Choose to help us continue our efforts. You can simply send a check to 1533 Park Center Drive, Orlando, FL 32835 or text the word GREEN to 41444. A gift of any size can make a difference.


Dean Kopsell

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