PlanT Ahead visit to high school class

Do you have trouble hiring employees for your business? Are you understaffed because you just can’t find people with the right skills? You are not alone. The average age of horticulture employees is climbing as fewer and fewer people of the next generation enter the field.

Lack of awareness is a huge issue facing our industry today. Many people don’t even know what horticulture is. I know I didn’t when I was graduating high school and picking what major to pursue in college. How can people find positions in our industry if they don’t even know those positions exist?

PlanT Ahead business tour

The PlanT Ahead Program was created by the Young Hort Professionals of the Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association (CNGA), to help solve this problem. This new youth outreach effort exposes high school students (and teachers) to the many opportunities of our industry. CNGA members are going into classrooms and talking directly to juniors and seniors who are ready to join the labor pool, and we’re doing this with a strategy in mind.

PlanT Ahead’s 3-Step Outline for Success

  1. Bring two to three young professionals in the horticulture industry (ideally 35 years old or younger) to schools to give a short presentation (20 to 25 minutes) to students about how they got into the industry and what they do now. A key element is demonstrating that people of many different backgrounds can easily get into the industry with a wide range of in-demand positions including marketing, computer science, mechanics, plant growing, etc.
  2. Give the students 15 to 20 minutes to ask questions to the presenters. This engages the students, allows them to explore their curiosity, and builds rapport.
  3. Give tours at local greenhouse and nursery operations. This is probably the most important part of the whole process, because students see the great work environments.
PlanT Ahead visit to high school class

There is a certain magic that happens when you walk through a greenhouse or nursery for the first time. The allure of working directly with and around plant life is what drew many of us to the industry. It’s time for us to pass this passion onto the next generation. If you are interested in volunteering as a presenter, opening up your business for a tour, or can help connect the program to a high school, please contact Ben Northcutt at CNGA: 303.758.6672 or bnorthcutt@coloradonga.org.

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