"Planting seeds the future"
I’m Roger Kjelgren, director of the University of Florida Mid Florida Research and Education Center (MREC) and NHF board member for five years. I experience both the giving and receiving sides of NHF funding support for research and scholarships.
The National Horticulture Foundation serves the broad array of different sectors that make up Florida’s green industry, from landscape maintenance to high intensity foliage production. Each of the different sectors have diverse needs that can be served by research, so the challenge facing the research/scholarships subcommittee every year is, what worthy projects to fund? The committee carefully weighs the relevance of each submitted research proposal to Florida’s green industry, but also to larger regional and sometimes national issues as well as encompassing as many green industry sectors as possible. As a board member, I’ve seen the NHF expand its research support to a broad array of worthy research to benefit Florida’s green industry and beyond.
For example, an economics researcher at MREC—Hayk Khatchatryan—was funded by NHF to untangle the factors that drive consumer demand for landscape plants as well as low water landscapes, information useful to the green industry nationwide as well as for Florida Friendly Landscapes! NHF research support also plants seeds of the future As Austin mentioned in the previous newsletter, NHF funding for the Collegiate Plant Initiative has been very successful in connecting plants to students in different campuses around the country—not just the University of Florida—who will become future employees and customers of Florida’s green industry. As director of MREC, the faculty here have benefitted greatly from NHF support over the years that has funded studies investing foliage plant cultivar development, landscape water use, and as mentioned consumer demand.
NHF scholarships are just as important as research to ensuring a bright—green!—future for Florida’s green industry. Graduate students at MREC have received generous scholarship support from the NHF every year of my tenure as director, for which they are very grateful for. As those of you who were once students scraping by, every dollar is important and NHF support makes a difference. As a NHF board and scholarship/research committee member, I have been particularly proud of how NHF is reaching wider to support students with great promise, including two mid-career women entering graduate school, one even in Massachusetts.
The reach and impact of the NHF is increasing, a step we can all be proud of, and invest back to the foundation that has already invested in you. 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.