AmericanHort Scholars Heading

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 AmericanHort Scholars program is open to undergraduate and graduate students who are attending 2- and 4-year colleges and universities. (If you graduate just before the program starts in July, that’s okay). Check out the program requirements.

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

HortScholars spend several days on-site at Cultivate’23 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 on July 12-19 at Cultivate’22 in Columbus ,Ohio. 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, Katie Gustafson.

2023 Applications window has closed. Check back during fall 2023 for 2024 application window.

What HortScholar Alumni Say About the Program

Get to Know The 2022 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.

AmericanHort is pleased to present the 2022 HortScholars:

Phoebe Austerman

Oklahoma State University

Phoebe Austerman is a senior undergraduate at Oklahoma State University studying public horticulture with a double minor in plant biology and pest management. She always tells people that choosing to study horticulture in college was the best decision she ever made because she is deeply fulfilled by getting to work with plants every day. After graduation this May, she expects to attend graduate school to focus on the research and development of ornamental foliage plant production. Her goal as a horticulturist is to help develop and introduce beautiful new houseplant species into the market. She is also interested in sustainability within the horticulture industry, especially as this becomes an increasingly vital component in every industry worldwide. She feels fortunate to have been selected as a HortScholar and cannot wait to attend Cultivate’22. She is excited to make connections with industry professionals and gain advice and wisdom from them, and to be able to see the sheer breadth of what our industry has to offer all in one place.

Ethan Jenkins

NC State University

Ethan Jenkins is a recent graduate of NC State University’s Horticulture program where he obtained his Bachelors of Horticultural Sciences with a concentration in Production Systems and Entrepreneurship and a minor in Biological Sciences. He loves horticulture because he finds it so enjoyable and relaxing to walk and look at plants. He is intrigued by the fact that while it may not look like much is going on outside the plant, there are many reactions and processes happening within the plant that many people do not consider or are unaware of. He also loves being able to utilize plants to turn an empty space into something spectacular and to see people’s excitement when he gives them a plant. He will be returning to NC State in the Fall of 2022 to begin his M.S. in Horticulture. He plans to work in the horticulture industry for several years before eventually returning to his hometown to open a nursery business. He hopes to serve his community by allowing local school agriculture programs to visit his facilities as an educational experience and by providing quality plants to consumers that will change their perspective on plants and enrich their lives.

Daniela Perez Lugones

University of Florida

Daniela Perez Lugones grew up in Germany surrounded by nature, wandering through the countryside collecting insects, and watching her mum garden in their backyard. Intuitively she always knew there was something therapeutic and grounding about being outdoors and working with the land. She reconnected with horticulture when she co-founded a community garden in Miami, Florida for the purpose of creative community engagement and exploring local options for food justice. She went on to receive her bachelor’s in Sustainability and Environmental Studies from the Florida International University. Afterward, she had the wonderful opportunity to teach environmental science and gardening to middle school students for four years. Now she is earning her master’s degree in Environmental Horticulture and a certificate in Horticultural Therapy from the University of Florida, with plans to graduate next summer. Her master’s project combines her love for horticulture, food justice, and outreach through a citizen science experiment aimed at studying self-efficacy and satisfaction in home gardeners. She hopes to deepen her knowledge and passion for sustainable urban gardening for the purposes of developing local food security initiatives and creating restorative spaces for both people and the environment.

Brian Schulker

NC State University

Growing up in southeast Florida, Brian Schulker was no stranger to the environmental issues surrounding the region. Brian completed his bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the University of South Florida with the idea of directing his efforts towards environmental conservation, with little idea of horticulture and the possibilities within. Shortly thereafter, he took a technician role at the USDA-ARS working for two years alongside research leaders, post-docs, and technicians through greenhouse and lab-based research. The experience he gained working with the talented researchers at the USDA gave him the skills and mindset to choose his career path in horticulture and directed him to pursue his M.S. at NC State University in the Horticultural Substrates Lab. Halfway through his M.S. program he knew he was not finished. He decided to pursue a Ph.D. at NC State University to continue his research, aimed directly at current industry issues pertaining to water scarcity, irrigation efficacy, and substrate-plant dynamics. Through his graduate research and future career, he hopes to be a part of the changing philosophies and methodologies regarding water usage in soilless crop production. Using refined techniques, he believes we can increase sustainability while more accurately managing one of our most precious resources, water.

Rachel Swicionis

Southeast Missouri State University

Rachel Swicionis fell in love with horticulture because it is strategic, calming, but most of all beautiful. She grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, and her first experience with plants was in her mom’s small backyard garden. She was always willing to go into the garden and pick weeds that were up to her knees. Looking back at those moments, she is surprised she did not find her love for horticulture earlier. She works at the student operated Charles Hutson Greenhouse. Sales is her passion as well as handling cattle. Working as a farmhand last summer she was able to use both majors by helping with the university’s first hemp research project. She is a senior at Southeast Missouri State University, double majoring in Agribusiness Horticulture and Agribusiness Animal Science. She decided to double major because it is rare to find one major you love, let alone two. She will be graduating with both majors in May of 2023. She has a few focuses and jobs she wants to pursue, however nothing set in stone yet. She is excited for her future in the green industry and looks forward for what is to come!

Lisa Richards

Gwinnett Technical College

Lisa Richards works in the Aerospace industry where she focuses on upskilling 21st century skills. She brings more than a decade of experience in Organizational Development, Change Management, HR Business Partner, Employee Engagement/ Cultural Transformation, and Talent Management. She is a certified Scrum Master, Product Owner, Agile HR, UX Design, and Change Management. She holds a B.S., Government from Berry College; B.A., Psychology from University of Tennessee; and MA, Industrial/Organizational Psychology from University of New Haven. Her love for nature and everything plants drove her to go back to school. She wanted to become more than a self-taught horticulturist, so she found Gwinnett Technical College which offers a great hands-on experience horticulture program. She is studying Environmental Horticulture with a concentration in Landscape Design. Due to this recent education, she is more confident in her skills to pursue her horticulture passion. At the end of the program, she will be a certified Landscape Design Technician, Landscape Installation Technician, and Floral Designer. She loves horticulture because she is passionate about people, plants, technology, and sustainable development. She is looking to continue her passions, learn, and get to know people in the horticulture industry. In the future, she hopes to partner with businesses to help cultivate the next generation of garden enthusiasts.