Seed Your Future’s fifth annual plant drawing contest captured the imaginations of a record 6,050 children – a 36% increase from 2021 – opening their eyes to the possibilities of plants and a journey potential career.
The Seed Your Future and Scholastic’s Plant Mash-Up contest encourages middle schoolers across the country to consider the characteristics of two existing plants to create a plant mix with new qualities that could help their community.
The Plant Mash-Up is more than a contest for a monetary prize; it offers kids three ways to tackle larger societal issues that don’t have clear or easy answers, says Jazmin Albarran, executive director of Seed Your Future, a Society of American Florists partner to help build the floriculture and horticulture labor pipeline.
“First, it allows them to express their own creativity and show that they have the potential to solve problems,” she says. “Second, that they can then impact their community, their backyard, their family, their school, their environment. Three, they can do it through plants.
” That’s all. We want to inspire young people to embark on careers working with flowers and plants, and what better [way to do that] than using plants to solve problems in their own community.
This year’s first winner is Chloe Grace N., an eighth grader from New Castle, Indiana. She combined an aloe vera plant and a burgundy rubber tree to fight air pollution and promote wound healing. “The leaves of the hybrid tree are aloe leaves, which produce useful antioxidants for better health and contain powerful health remedies that speed wound healing and fight dangerous bacteria,” she said. wrote in his article.
This year’s finalist is Anna K., an eighth grader from Shawnee, Kansas. She combined a silver maple and a breadfruit to solve the problem of food deserts and malnutrition. “If these two elements could be combined, low-income citizens could have access to nutritious food from a tree that is already growing all over the United States,” she wrote in her post.
The winner of this year’s raffle is Itais E., a sixth-grader from New Albany, Ohio, who combined a snake plant with an areca palm to fight air pollution.
As Albarran reviewed the entries, she noticed mature themes such as mental health, housing, erosion, air pollution, climate change, hydration, world hunger and disease. such as malaria.
“It was amazing to see the different topics this contest can touch on,” she says.
This contest is designed to get kids thinking about plants at a critical age that could have a lifelong impact. Research from Seed Your Future found that middle school is when kids start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up. In many states, middle schoolers decide which high school they want to attend based on their interests, such as a performing arts school.
“You can play a part in reaching young people and reaching the next generation of professionals simply by putting this contest in front of as many middle schoolers in your area as possible,” she says. “I want to see 50,000 kids take part in this event next year.”
The Plant Mash-Up is just one way to introduce kids to a possible career in flowers and plants, and there are plenty of other ways to get them involved the rest of the year. For example, a florist might invite a local Boy Scout troop or Girl Scout troop for a field trip, Albarran says. The florist could then use Seed Your Future resources or provide a hands-on activity for the kids, like arranging a bouquet for their moms.
“I want people to see our resources as a gateway to building a relationship with the local school, the local YMCA…and every organization that serves youth in outdoor spaces,” Albarran says. “Reach out to these people and say, ‘Do you know Seed Your Future? Here are some cool videos, and if you ever want, you can come on site and learn more about the different [career] the roles.'”
And if the prospect of helping find the next generation of workers for the floriculture and horticulture industries sounds daunting, it doesn’t have to be – and industry professionals don’t have to. do it alone. Albarran emphasizes the importance of relationship building to help address labor shortages.
Albarran suggests that flower businesses can seek out other floral professionals, community organizations and partners such as Seed Your Future to help teach children about careers with flowers and plants. Working together makes it more manageable, she says, and these partnerships can focus on finding two or three schools or organizations in the area to build relationships with.
She also wants to make sure industry professionals know they have a partner in Seed Your Future.
“I always want the industry to know that they have a role in this and have allies in Seed Your Future,” says Albarran. “They can volunteer with us, whether it’s sharing our resources or volunteering and building relationships. And together, we can reach out to schools in their neighborhood.
For more information, visit seedyourfuture.org and SAFNow.org