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The Importance of Staying Active in the American Society for Horticultural Science and ASHS Southern Region

The Importance of Staying Active in the American Society for Horticultural Science and ASHS Southern Region

I originally presented this as an invited fifteen minute talk to graduate students at the American Society for Horticultural Science Southern Region Conference in Jacksonville last week.  Oftentimes graduate students find it difficult to justify paying for professional memberships to attend conferences post-graduation, especially when some of those monies come directly from your own pocket. Its easy to fall into the thinking that, well, I attended as a graduate student to compete because my Adviser made me.  As a returning graduate student, one may find themselves with one to five years of opportunities to attend professional horticulture conferences beyond their initial experience. This is especially true for Master’s students moving on to their PhD.  So, as a graduate student, you might ask, what’s it in for me? Here are some notes.

  1. Student Member
    1. Professional research organization listing for CVs (professional resume), social media, applications for graduate school and jobs. (…is a Member of ASHS and ASHS Southern Region…for example)
    2. Discounted conference registration (hey we can all use  little break, and Members get one!)
    3. Student travel grants (my husband and I were both fortunate enough to receive these as graduate students)
    4. Paid to assist Dr. David Reed at SR registration desk (yes, even smaller opportunities such as this exist and I was able to assist Dr. Reed one year which helped pay for my costs)
    5. ASHS online resources: jobs, assistantships, journals (Members receive an early email notice of new positions!)
    6. Practice Oral and Written Communications in a professional setting at conferences (practice makes perfect and these are two essential skills you will need in the future)
    7. Source for peer-reviewed journal publication opportunities
      1. Take advantage of publishing at least one or two articles plus abstracts from your graduate research for each graduate degree, before leaving the University (trust me, it is much easier to do this while you are still on campus)
    8. Networking (some say it isn’t what you know, but who you know-this can be very true!)
    9. Early Notice of Job Opportunities
      1. In person at conferences & online (you’d be surprised of tidbits of juicy news for upcoming opportunities that may present themselves if you network!)
    10. Post CV online at ASHS (you have to put yourself out there on the most reputable sites for potential employers to find you…for horticulturists…look no farther than ASHS)
    11. Assistantship/Scholarship opportunities (I’ve got my mind on my money and my money on mind…let’s face it…those departmental potluck dinners are only going to get you so far and graduate school can be expensive)
    12. Letters of Recommendation (you’ll need both solid letters of recommendation from professionals who know you and your work, as well as professional experiences from which they can write glorious letters on your behalf)
    13. PAX Photography contest at ASHS (photography skills will help you in promoting and disseminating information about your research as a student and as a future employee…improve your skills and have a little fun with your peers in this contest-I have been!)
    14. Mentoring
      1. graduate student/faculty  (these mentors should guide you through the thesis/dissertation process, getting published, becoming active professionally, and making that student to employee transition) (if your own adviser isn’t up to par, seek out positive, active mentors from professionals at ASHS)
      2. peer-to-peer (fellow graduate students you meet in ASHS can be life long friends, supportive colleagues, and may provide you with helpful tips from their own experiences)
    15. ASHS SR-smaller, more family-like
      1. Not every US region has ASHS representation (that means that for those who can be intimidated by the larger ASHS conferences, Southern Region -for example- is smaller, close-knit group to interact with)
  1. Faculty/Employee/Employer Member (think to your future, graduate students!)
    1. Professional research organization listing for bios and bylines (social media, articles, speaking engagements, websites) *Your credentials!
    2. Discounted conference registration versus non-members
    3. ASHS SR-smaller, more family-like
      1. Not every US region has ASHS representation
    4. Awards/Recognitions (I received a Blue Ribbon Extension Communications Award…CV building!)
    5. International Research Opportunities
    6. Colleagues that lift each other up
    7. Mentoring: new faculty members
    8. Collaborative Research (this is extremely important)
      1. Institution to Institution
      2. Grants (multi-organizations)
    9. CV building (ASHS provides opportunities through presentations, awards, and volunteerism to build your CV)
      1. Annual evaluations
      2. Promotions
    10. Networking
    11. Early Notice of Job Opportunities
      1. In person at conferences & online
    12. Post CV online ASHS (not many professionals stay with the same company (or at the same location) forever-those days are gone…for some this is THE way to get significant promotions and increases in salary)
    13. Nominations Awards/Committees (I have served on several committees and have also volunteered to be a poster and oral competitions judge…all rewarding experiences)
    14. Letters of Recommendation (I have been a letter writer and received letters for/from folks via ASHS)
      1. Promotions
      2. Awards
    15. PAX Photography contest at ASHS
    16. Connect with students for Assistantship, Post-Grad, and Faculty Exchange research positions
    17. International speaking opportunities
    18. Disseminate Research Activities: Oral and Poster
    19. Promotes Personal Research, Department/Organization, Field of Study
    20. Annual Giving: Endowment, Scholarships, Awards
    21. Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) for certification programs such as the International Society for Arboriculture and the ASHS Certified Professional Horticulturist programs and some jobs
    22. Opportunities to Serve and Give Back
      1. Office Board & committees
      2. Judging Oral and Poster Competitions
      3. Advisors for ACB
    23. Publication opportunities in peer-reviewed journals
    24. Reasons to be an active Member though not employed directly in Horticulture Science as Scientist at the PhD level?
      1. Educational opportunities, collaboration and interest groups
        1. Stay apprised of what is new in horticulture
      2. Extension, Industry, Ag/Hort/Garden writers & communicators, Ag Education, Public Gardens
        1. We are stronger when we are together! Get inspired.
      3. May be in temporary position, not in Horticulture, but maintaining horticulture track/interests (I used to joke I was longest running ASHS Member who was not actively employed in Horticulture for many years!)

I hope this information can help you or a graduate student you may know in Horticulture or a horticulture-related field.

Yours in Gardening,

The Garden Maiden


copyright 2018 The Garden Maiden

Categories: Other Inspirations | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

American Society for Horticultural Science 2014 Conference: search for the holy grail!

Last week my husband I attended the 2014 annual meeting of the American Society for Horticultural Science in Orlando, Florida. We’ve been members since about 1998, when we were graduate students at the University of Arkansas. I’ve received questions from friends or family inquiring as to what we do “at those meetings.”












In our search for the “Holy Grail of Horticulture” we attend these conferences to speak, present, meet, ask, and apply.  In Horticulture there are many “holy grails” being quested for such as the perfect nursery container “pot”. Speaking of pot, I attended a workshop on indigenous herbal medicine and recent developments in cannabis regulation and cultivation. This was a very informative two hours! (or was it six hours or perhaps thirty minutes…I can’t remember…JUST KIDDING!)  As the Grail Knight tells us us in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “You must choose. But choose wisely, for as the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”















Attending the professional conferences, such as ASHS, affords us opportunities to present current research we have been a part of by making oral or poster presentations for our peers.

Even during years when I had nothing to present (I often joke that for several years I was the longest running member not employed in horticulture), I would spend a couple of hours walking through the poster hall reading about the latest and greatest research in horticulture science.















Since my background is very diversified (from ornamentals, to fruit crops, to veg crops and beyond)…I attend a variety of oral presentations. I gather ideas for garden articles, research topics and usually enjoy a renewed sense of enthusiasm for horticulture and my place in it.















There are many optional “field trips” available during the conference too, usually incorporating horticulture or public garden sites.

This year there was a silent auction to support speakers for the Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants Working Group. My bids won a Rodale book on medicinal plants and a collection of Proven Winners Gardener’s Collection of soap, hand balm and lip balm created with goats milk and organic essential oils by Indigo Wild in Kansas City, MO.

I would be remiss if not to include the invaluable social time with my peers as part of the enjoyment of the conference. I love meeting new people, but also catching up with friends and colleagues, many of whom I only see once or twice a year at an ASHS conference.

Networking is a big part of the conference. You may meet future employers, committee members, find out about upcoming jobs and opportunities and gain face time for future endeavors. Collaboration is a big part of research and networking at ASHS can put you in touch with new collaboration opportunities.















For many years now I have been able to use my time attending professional presentations at ASHS as CEU’s to maintain my Certified Professional Horticulturist status. This is a great way to “rack up” a lot of hours in a few days.

Recent trends have included much more research on sustainable and organic methods of growing and producing plants. For that I am very excited and thankful.

A few more shots from ASHS 2014 presentations in this mini-slideshow

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We also attend and have been members of the ASHS-Southern Region group since about 1998.


See you next year at ASHS New Orleans!

The Garden Maiden 🙂

All images and text copyright 2014 The Garden Maiden

Categories: Plant Related Events | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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