Experience the Industry at Cultivate

What is the AmericanHort Scholars program?

This program sets students in horticulture on a path to success by exposing them to the breadth of the horticulture industry, its opportunities, and its leaders at Cultivate. Each year, 6 students are chosen for this beyond-the-classroom experience – giving insight and awareness of the industry, its supply chain, and where they might find a home for their passion.

In other words, HortScholars will meet many, many people that:

  • Can help with finding a fantastic job or internship
  • Offer insights on the best ways to reach career goals
  • Will tell funny stories about stupid things they did early in their career (and that you can learn from)
  • Provide lots of realistic advice that is actually useful

Who is eligible?

The program is open to undergraduate and graduate students who are attending 2- and 4-year colleges and universities. (Those who graduate just before the program starts in July are still eligible). Check out the program requirements.

What exactly is an AmericanHort Scholar and what do they do?

HortScholars spend several days on-site at Cultivate in Columbus, Ohio.

  • Volunteering with set up
  • Learning about the green industry
  • Networking in facilitated meetings with industry leaders
  • Presenting on a horticulture topic of their choice
  • And much more!

This program is a unique experience designed to help create long-lasting industry connections, find future jobs and internships, and experience some of the most exciting aspects of the industry.

When and where does the AmericanHort Scholars program take place?

The HortScholar program takes place in Columbus, Ohio on July 9-16 before and during Cultivate’24. AmericanHort provides complimentary meals, lodging, an All-Access Pass to Cultivate, and a complimentary one-year student membership in addition to the HortScholar activities at Cultivate. Scholars are responsible for providing their own transportation to and from Columbus, Ohio.

Still have questions?

Check out the FAQs or contact the program coordinator, Michael Martin.

Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

What HortScholar Alumni Say About the Program

Get to Know The 2023 HortScholars

The AmericanHort HortScholars program sets students in horticulture on a path to success by exposing them to the breadth of the horticulture industry, its opportunities, and its leaders. The program offers a beyond-the-classroom experience, giving insight and awareness of the industry, its supply chain, and where the scholars might find a home for their passion. The focus of the program is on professional development, including attending educational sessions, networking, and working with industry mentors at Cultivate.

Here are the 2023 HortScholars:

Armando Villa-Ignacio

Colorado State University
Armando Villa-Ignacio is currently a graduate student in the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture department at Colorado State University under Dr. Jennifer Bousselot. He is currently pursuing an M.S. with plans to pursue a Ph.D. shortly after. He is studying Rooftop Agrivoltaics and aims to make rooftop agrivoltaics open and accessible. He found his love of plants at a young age and has continued to cultivate that passion into a lifelong career. In his downtime, he has a passion for music, specifically barbershop music, and sings with the Barbershop Harmony Society with his chorus, the Sound of the Rockies, and his quartet, My Favorite Quartet.

Kaitlin Swiantek

University of Georgia
Kaitlin Swiantek is a Horticulture master’s student at the University of Georgia, working with Dr. John Ruter. Her research aims to breed Pycnanthemum (mountain mint) and add more information about the genus to the literature. Pycnanthemum is a pollinator-attractive plant with landscape-use potential. Kaitlin hopes introducing a pollinator-attractive plant into the landscape will draw attention to pollinator decline and help people support pollinators in their own communities. Kaitlin’s interest in horticulture began during her first year of college when she decided to take a plant and gardening class. The class introduced Kaitlin to ornamental breeding, a career that offered her the perfect mixture of art and science. She was captivated by ornamental breeding because it would allow her to explore scientific fields while feeding her creativity. Kaitlin loves horticulture because it is a versatile field that welcomes people from all professions, allowing for a diverse work environment and the opportunity to gain knowledge constantly. Kaitlin plans to continue merging ornamental breeding and pollinator conservation in her career as a plant breeder. She wants to cultivate plants that serve a role beyond aesthetics because a beautiful plant is great, but a beautiful plant that also improves society is even better.

Regan Draeger

The Ohio State University
Regan Draeger is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Sustainable Plant Systems with a specialization in Horticulture, as well as her associate degree in Horticultural Science. She fell in love with horticulture after competing on her high school floriculture team, where she earned state and national titles. Afterward, she developed her own wedding design business. Regan also worked in several greenhouses over the past six years and recently interned with the Ohio State Master Gardener program, managing the online AskExtension platform. Regan is currently working as a landscape designer at Corso’s Landscape, while earning her master’s degree in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications from the University of Tennessee with plans to graduate in 2025. She hopes to become an active contributor and pacesetter in this industry by developing landscapes that push design boundaries sustainable for our environment, which is becoming increasingly vital to the industry.

Taylor DeLand

Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute

Taylor DeLand is a second-year student at Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute. She is graduating in May with an associate degree in Greenhouse and Nursery Management with a Greenhouse major. She loves horticulture for many reasons. The main reason being the joy she gets from working with plants and working hard to develop a quality crop for customers. She loves to watch her crop grow from a small plant to flowering for sale, and to see the excitement on customers faces. She has been working in horticulture for 4 years learning many different skills. Her journey started out by attending the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center, studying landscape and environmental design. She wants to start by being a head grower for a couple years in a large-scale greenhouse. In the future she hopes to start a retail greenhouse somewhere near her hometown. Her business will focus on growing either spring annuals or a hydroponic production.

Brandan Shur

North Carolina State University
Brandan Shur has always had a passion for horticulture. Growing up on his family orchard in the mountains of North Carolina, he started working on the farm from the moment he could walk. This experience gave him a deep appreciation for the environmental challenges that the fruit industry can face and sparked his interest in pursuing a career in horticulture. Brandan obtained a bachelor’s degree in Horticultural Science with a concentration in Production Systems and Entrepreneurship, along with minors in Plant Biology and Biological Sciences, from North Carolina State University. During his undergraduate studies, he gained research experience in the Horticultural Substrates Lab, where he became intrigued by soilless production and the innovative techniques used to engineer sustainable growing media. He continued his work with substrates by pursuing a master’s degree in the same field, focusing on developing and optimizing soilless substrates for container production systems for soft fruit. Brandan’s passion for horticulture stems from his desire to use innovative techniques and sustainable practices to address environmental challenges and improve food production. He hopes to continue pursuing his research goals as a researcher, with the ultimate goal of making a positive impact on the world through his work.

Hamilton Crockett

Virginia Tech
Growing up as an Air Force kid, Hamilton Crockett, had the opportunity to travel the world, experiencing unique cultures and landscapes. She grew-up with an appreciation for nature, whether that be through hiking, snorkeling, or skiing. It wasn’t until she had the opportunity to take an IB Environmental Science class where she learned she could transform her love for nature into a career. She received her B.S. in Crop and Soil Science from Virginia Tech with minors in Environmental Science, Chinese, and French. While there, she was able to conduct collaborative undergraduate research in Austria (w/ TU Wein) and Virginia (w/ Schmale Lab). Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in plant pathology at Louisiana State University. Not only does she work in the LSU Plant Diagnostic Center (PDC), but she is conducting research at the PDC using molecular techniques to identify Oomycete species in woody ornamentals and trees across Louisiana. This research has already identified several unreported host associations, and this knowledge can be used in the mitigation of certain Oomycete infections for nurseries and homeowners. She is looking forward to working in the green industry investigating disease management/diagnosis, applying research to the field, and being involved in outreach.