Celebrating a Decade of Growth: Seed Your Future’s 10-Year Anniversary
This year marks Seed Your Future’s 10th anniversary. As we look back on this movement that began in 2013 and look ahead, we’re reflecting on 10 remarkable milestone to celebrate SYF’s past decade of growth.
1. The Seeds of Inception
In 2013, a group of horticulture department professors, all volunteers from the American Society for Horticultural Science, and green industry professionals came together over a shared concern about the labor shortage threatening horticultural careers. Recognizing the need to increase awareness about all the opportunities within their industry and combat misconceptions, Seed Your Future was officially born in 2014 with support from Longwood Gardens and Ball Horticultural Company. Together, the group embarked on a mission: to promote horticulture and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants.
2. Digging Up Research
Prior to creating any campaigns, SYF’s founding professors and professionals recognized the need to conduct research about green industry awareness. Partnering with Fleishman Hillard, the research was conducted in four phases. First, researchers sought to find out if people did or did not understand horticulture, and second, whether they knew about careers within the industry. Using a focus group of students and families, researchers then measured what they knew about horticulture careers, and lastly, how to expose youth to green opportunities during middle school – some of students’ most formative years. Officially completed in 2017, their findings have provided direction to all SYF’s goals and plans. Research has continued to be a vital priority for SYF.
3. Rooting Strong Leadership
Bringing together leaders and organizations from all sectors of the industry, SYF established a fully functioning National Leadership Cabinet and Advisory Council to help govern, guide and grow SYF’s impact, including members such as The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Proven Winners, Bell Nursery, J.R. Peters, Come alive Outside, Delaware Valley University, Morton Arboretum, and Chicago Botanic Garden. Since its establishment, new leaders from different organizations have joined our governing bodies and helped us establish our vision: that everyone understands the power of plants and is aware of the promising careers in the art, science, technology, and business of horticulture.
4. Sowing a Social Media Strategy
From 2016 to 2017, SYF developed and implemented a new social media strategy to curate daily content highlighting our mission and impact. Our leaders recognized that to successfully promote SYF, they had to approach social media as a multi-purpose, multi-channel, and multi-audience tool – using different media platforms and content to reach diverse groups of people. With this strategy, SYF has gained 600 LinkedIn followers, 5,187 Instagram followers, 1,131 X (formerly Twitter) followers, and 15,000 Facebook followers, continuing to reach more people every day.
SYF launched its very first PR and education campaign – BLOOM! in 2018, which reached over 770,000 students in its first semester. BLOOM! helps teachers integrate plant-based concepts into their curriculum through creative content specifically designed to engage and educate youth, whether it be through videos, the Plant Mash-Up Contest, Plant Power Quiz, games or curriculum guide. Since its launch, we’ve reached over 600,000 educators and 4 million students to date with plant-focused lesson plans and activities.
6. Funding the Future
Between 2016 to 2017, SYF developed its Scholarships and Internships webpages, where it posts unique horticultural internship and scholarship opportunities for students. In 2020, SYF launched its Educator Grants Resource page, connecting K-12 teachers with funding to help support horticulture and garden programs. Since their publication, our webpages have helped countless students and educators secure funds and opportunities within the green industry.
7. #YearofthePlant & #NatureNeverCloses
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, SYF declared 2020 the #YearofthePlant to increase awareness about horticulture. In 2020 alone, 13,588 individuals signed on as #YearofthePlant supporters while 4,448 sent in ideas of how to incorporate more plants into 2020, whether it be to grow food, provide a sense of hope, or bring a sense of comfort in isolation. At the same time, SYF started circulating #NatureNeverCloses, encouraging people to get outside and experience the power of plants amidst the chaos of the pandemic and loneliness from social distancing.
8. Green Career Week
Created to help green industry professionals connect with the next generation, Green Career Week was officially launched in the fall of 2022. Held once in the spring and fall, green professionals connect with educators and their students, whether it be through a field trip, classroom visit, or virtual visit, showing students what they do in their job. By connecting with local schools, colleges, and universities, businesses and organizations highlight the various career paths within their industry, all while identifying future potential hires. Hundreds of companies have participated, helping us engage with over 10,000 students to date.
9. Highlighting Horticultural STEM Careers
In 2023, Corteva Agriscience sponsored an initiative to highlight horticultural STEM careers in a series of 10 videos. Each video highlights a different individual working within the industry, asking what led them to their career, what qualifications are needed in their role, and what they love most about what they do. Students anywhere can access the videos to see some of the STEM opportunities available to them within the industry. All videos will become available on our website in January 2024.
10. Cultivating Curiosity Through Education Programs
This year, SYF will create an immersive professional development program for high school science educators centered around horticulture careers. Participants will receive industry training and immerse themselves in onsite locations and career programs, allowing them to experience horticulture in a way that will enable them to explain industry careers to their students in greater detail. At the program’s conclusion, educators will create open-access lesson plans to be featured on SYF’s resources webpage, allowing teachers anywhere to use them and highlight horticulture careers in their curriculum. The lesson plans will be aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards.
Looking Ahead: A Future of Growth and Possibility
As Seed Your Future celebrates a decade of impactful initiatives, the journey continues with a focus on spreading more awareness of all the opportunities available within the horticulture sector. These achievements reflect our organization's commitment to cultivating a greener future, and we could not do any of it without you. If you’d like to donate and help SYF further its mission, please visit our website today.
Visit Seed Your Future's website to explore these remarkable accomplishments further and join in shaping a greener, more vibrant tomorrow.
- Lillie Wightman, Seed Your Future