No matter where you go in the world, if you’re involved in horticulture, you’re bound to run into someone you know at an industry event. I can vouch for this, as I’ve never attended an event in Europe where I haven’t recognized a fellow hort professional. It was no different this past month when I attended IPM Essen, a German trade show that attracts visitors from 45 different countries.

As I was walking through the Galeria area, I crossed paths with two familiar faces — Karin Walters and Christa Steenwyk from Walters Gardens, a perennials grower in Michigan. We got to chatting, and I learned that they had traveled over to Europe with fellow young professionals from North America, united by a mutual desire to experience IPM Essen and visit European growers. During our conversation, we contemplated what it would take to create a formal organization for these young professionals, one that could put together trips that could be tailored to the group’s needs.

Later on, I was making my way through one of the hallways connecting the exhibit halls and came across a booth that appeared to be the European version of what we had been discussing. I spoke with one of the young women at the booth who explained to me that she was part of the German division of the Communautè Europèenne des Jeunes de L'Horticulture (CEJH), or the European Young Horticulturists group. According to an informational packet about the organization, some of the goals of the CEJH are: to represent the interests and affairs of young horticulturists and florists and to promote the education and supplementary education of horticultural and florists professions, as well as promote the international exchanging of vocational experiences of young people.

Could a similar organization be created for young horticulturists in North America? Perhaps. I'll be speaking with CEJH leadership soon to learn more. In the meantime, what are your thoughts? Does North America need a young professionals group for the horticulture industry? If so, what does that group look like? Would its goals be similar to the CEJH, or are there more specific needs on this side of the pond? Shoot me an email at to share your thoughts on the topic.

Karen E. Varga, Editor

216-393-0290 | Twitter: @Karen_GIE