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New campaign addresses ‘plant blindness’ among U.S. youth

Plants are critical to the future of the planet, but absent from the minds of most American youth, resulting in a perilous workforce gap in the horticulture industry. A new national campaign, BLOOM!, has been launched to excite young people about the power of plants and to ensure horticulture thrives well into the future.

BLOOM! is the first major initiative of Seed Your Future, a coalition of more than 150 partners — including horticulture companies, gardening organizations, schools, colleges, universities, public gardens, youth organizations, nonprofit organizations and individual advocates — united in their mission to promote horticulture and the diverse careers the industry offers.

BLOOM Horticulture — the art, science, technology and business of plants — touches nearly every facet of life, but awareness of this important industry is at an all-time low, according to a news release. Research shows that the average American can recognize 1,000 brand names and logos, but fewer than 10 local plants. “Plant blindness” — a lack of awareness of plants — is particularly significant among U.S. youth, a majority of whom have never heard of the term “horticulture,” and the industry is experiencing the impact.

Nearly 58,000 jobs in horticulture are expected to become available annually for the next five years, but only 61 percent are expected to be filled. At the same time, higher education and horticulture training programs are experiencing declining enrollment.

“We are living in a moment of great paradox. Plants are everywhere, yet plants are nowhere,” said Susan E. Yoder, executive director at Seed Your Future. “Horticulture impacts everything from the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the beautiful landscapes and floral arrangements we enjoy, but few outside the industry make this critical connection. Youth — our next generation of leaders — are the key to reversing this trend, which is why we are thrilled to bring them a campaign that introduces them to the awe-inspiring potential of the natural world.”

Through eye-catching, fact-based content delivered both inside and outside of the classroom, BLOOM! is educating and inspiring young people and the adults in their lives about the power of plants and the career opportunities behind them. The campaign website — WeAreBLOOM.org — serves as a digital hub for all campaign activity and hosts a suite of entertaining, educational resources to interest kids, teachers, parents and youth program leaders.

With more than 100 diverse careers to choose from — including florists, plant breeders, greenhouse growers, sports groundskeepers, drone engineers, hydroponics specialists, and landscape architects — horticulture offers young people the opportunity to positively impact the world while cultivating their personal interests.

Horticulturists today are tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges such as feeding a growing population, curing disease, climate change and clean water. They are also making playing fields safer for athletes, creating fabric for clothing, growing plants that soothe and heal us, and making the world a happier, more beautiful place.

“This campaign is all about opening young people’s eyes to the incredible power of plants to change the world. Horticulturists today are already wielding that power to great effect, but there is much more work to be done,” said Anna Ball, president and chief executive officer at Ball Horticultural Co. and co-chair of the Seed Your Future National Leadership Cabinet. “Whether BLOOM! introduces today’s youth to a lifelong passion or a fulfilling career, one thing is clear — the more we know about plants, the more we can make a difference in the world today.”

For more information, go to www.WeAreBLOOM.org.