I have been involved with horticulture organizations since I was a young professional in my early 20s, and have benefited greatly. I received scholarships to travel to conferences and exchange fellowships to travel abroad. I made connections with other members that have led to career advancement, and gotten free food while discussing the finer points of growing plants. Here are several recommended organizations and how you can benefit from becoming a member.
CNGA (Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association)
- Free student membership and very affordable annual dues for young professionals
- Opportunities for career advancement and increased pay: The association offers certifications and related study materials and courses.
- When I became a Certified Greenhouse Grower (CGG) through CNGA, I received a raise at my first greenhouse job. They also offer the CCNP (Colorado Certified Nursery Professional) exam and certification.
- CNGA also organizes and offers its members access to pesticide certification through the Colorado Department of Agriculture and CEUs (continuing education units). Plus, the association offers great resources for preparing for the exams and maintaining your license.
- Discounts on ProGreen EXPO registration: Being a member of CNGA allows you to get more out of the annual conference and tradeshow. The event has helped my career immeasurably. Meeting company representatives and learning from professionals are great ways to expand your personal brand in the green industry.
- Young Hort Professionals: This group within CNGA brings younger people in the industry together for meetings, usually at fun locations like bars where conversations become livelier!
IPPS (International Plant Propagators’ Society)
- Great value, experiences and connections: With $15 annual dues for students, it is the perfect blend of industry and academia. Each annual conference includes touring the local operations that are hosting the conference and some great plant talks.
- Scholarships to attend the IPPS Western Region meeting: In 2017, I received a scholarship, and it covered most expenses. The host state members do a great tour of the green industry around their area.
- Exchange fellowships: I was also chosen for a fellowship to travel to and attend the IPPS New Zealand conference in April 2020. Young members of the IPPS Western Region can apply for fellowships annually.
ISA (International Society of Arboriculture)
- One-stop shop for resources and professional connections: Especially helpful for young people who plan to be arborists, ISA has a Rocky Mountain chapter with affordable dues and numerous member benefits. As a certified arborist, I have been able to further my career working part time for a commercial landscape company.
- Annual conference: This event is great place to learn new techniques and meet fellow members working in a variety of areas within the industry.
CHREF (Colorado Horticulture Research and Education Foundation)
- Scholarships: This foundation is the Colorado green industry’s way to give back to students and members. College students can apply annually for scholarships to help pay for tuition.
- Grants for research programs: CHREF funds several different research projects including one that I conducted at Colorado State University. These grants not only lead to important study results used by the industry, but also provide research opportunities to faculty and students.
ASHS (American Society of Horticultural Science)
- Annual conference: This science-based organization is geared toward academics, but its annual conference is attended by many industry partners that want to keep up on the latest research findings coming out of universities. The result is some good networking.
- Conference travel grants: Available for students, I received a $500 grant to help with travel costs in 2019.
- Journal of the ASHS: This publication is full of great research with applied aspects that can help growers solve problems they face daily.
All the benefits I received from these organizations have been immensely rewarding. I paid my dues (which were very cheap in retrospect), and then sought out opportunities that could benefit my career. I hope more young professionals will become involved members in these organizations and enhance their horticultural careers.