Charles Yurgalevitch is the Director of the School of Professional Horticulture at The New York Botanical Garden.
Just half a day before this year’s Hortie Hoopla, the weather was oppressively hot and humid with afternoon thunderstorms and heavy rain showers dumping over an inch of rain on the grounds of NYBG. By morning, the sun was clear in the sky, the humidity reduced by almost half. The new day brought a new start for this year’s Hortie Hoopla, now in its 7th year.
This year’s Hortie Hoopla on Wednesday, July 19, began with a surprise Skype appearance by Fergus Garrett, Head Gardener at Great Dixter, UK, sitting in the beautiful living room at Great Dixter. Todd Forrest, NYBG’s Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections, introduced Fergus to the crowd of 225 young horticultural interns and staff from the tri-state area.
Fergus spoke about the importance of training in the art of gardening and experimentation that is at the core of horticulture, and told the audience about Great Dixter founder Christopher Lloyd and his dedication to teaching people about plants. Afterward, NYBG School of Professional Horticulture Director Charles Yurgalevitch introduced the audience to five successful and respected leaders in the green industry from around New York City, who briefly told the interns how they became interested in plants and the various things they tried—some not always successful—to get where they are today.
This year’s 4th Annual Tri-State Green Industry Intern Field Day, held on July 20, 2016, attracted over 135 people, of which 110 of them were interns. Many arrived early to explore and visit the Impressionism exhibition in both the Haupt Conservatory and Library Gallery, and were fortunate to see the corpse flower (Amorphophallus titanum) bud which had just been put on display in the Palm Dome’s pool.
The program began in the Ross Lecture Hall with Todd Forrest, the Arthur Ross VP for Horticulture & Living Collections, welcoming the guests and introducing Charles Yurgalevitch, Ph.D., Director of the School of Professional Horticulture, who opened the program and explained the afternoon’s events. He then introduced the four speakers in the program. The first to speak was Ken Druse, author and photographer. He called on a few interns to ask them what they were doing and what they hoped to do as they launch their horticulture careers, leading an interactive discussion with the room.
New as it is, Hortie Hoopla is already a key event for young horticultural professionals looking to find their footing in this fast-paced and challenging field, one that’s always on the look-out for fresh ideas and new faces. The New York Botanical Garden invites green industry interns from all over the New York metropolitan area and beyond to spend the day in the Garden, linking up with their fellow horticulturists, accomplished career plantsmen, and scientists, all while enjoying a day of tours, games, networking, and BBQ. But first: the inspiration.
Charles M. Yurgalevitch, Ph.D., is the Director of the School of Professional Horticulture.
On Wednesday, July 24, 2013, the School of Professional Horticulture at the NYBG hosted the first-ever Green Industry Intern Field Day in the metro NYC area! Over 80 people attended, with every borough represented at this event, in addition to Long Island, upstate New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. An undergrad student even traveled from North Carolina State University to attend. This Field Day was created for interns interested in a career in horticulture, ecology, landscape design, or ecological restoration—for anyone who loves working with plants and wants to improve our environment and the world by doing so.
We opened with a brief assessment of the state of horticulture in 2013—namely, the shortage of trained and skilled plants people. Despite high-paying opportunities, there is a notable lack of people going into the nursery and landscape management business. In the UK, 72% of horticulture firms cannot find skilled workers, and a report from the Royal Horticultural Society found that young people in Britain don’t view gardening or working with plants as a skilled career. The importance of plants in our lives and on our planet cannot be overstated, making the need to encourage education in horticulture and the science behind growing plants all the more significant.