A Workshop + Inspiration Series

A career in horticulture is amazing. From having the most beautiful "offices" outside to working with some of the kindest, hardest working, creative, and funny people around, there's a lot to love about our jobs. 

But careers in horticulture also come with some unique challenges. One of the toughest ones continues to be the elusive "career ladder," and it can be tough to figure out how to grow a career once you've mastered growing the plants.

Introducing CareerUP, an AmericanHort program tailored to you and the unique situations young horticulture professionals find themselves in. CareerUP seeks to give you practice and strategy in the soft skills that can make or break many young professional and entry-level management scenarios while also seeking to inspire you with the people who know exactly what you're going through and have come out on the other side.

Which is why we're calling it a "Workshop + Inspiration Series." Be ready to for some honest conversations, sincere networking with other young professionals in the industry, and plenty of inspiration to motivate and empower you to keep growing strong. 

Your career matters to us, and it matters to the success of the industry. Let's get started.


The Schedule


Saturday, July 15 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.


The Greater Columbus Convention Center, Columbus, OH


First, you'll need to register for Cultivate and select your experience (All-Access, Expo Only) and then select "CareerUP" as an add-on experience. 


Cultivate Registration + $125 for CareerUP.

CareerUP Registration gets you the Workshop, Inspiration Series, Lunch, and a Happy Hour Reception (i.e., free drinks and fun). This is your career and professional growth we're dealing with, and an investment in professional development can lead to better work performance and engagement; stronger confidence and work satisfaction; salary increases; higher retention rates; and movement up the career ladder. If you or your boss still need some convincing, read this.


9:30 - 10 a.m.: Check-in and mingling
10 - 11:30 a.m.: High Stakes Communication Workshop with Nancy Fisher
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Lunch (provided)
1 - 4 p.m.: Inspiration Series

  • Kelly Norris, Director of Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
  • Bridget Behe, PhD, Michigan State University professor
  • Tyler Baras ("Farmer Tyler"), Dallas Grown, Farm Manager; Hort Americas, Special Projects Manager; Urban Ag News, Video Contributor; Farmer Tyler LLC, Owner
  • Steve Black, Raemelton Farm, Owner
4 - 5 p.m.: Happy Hour Networking Reception & Presentation of First Annual Emergent Honors


The Workshop


You’ve been there -- whether you’re the freshly minted manager overseeing people twice your age and triple the experience or the new employee with bright ideas and excitement to spare — high stakes communication scenarios might as well be your 9-to-5. 

Young professionals today are expected to juggle it all. Knowing how to communicate effectively and powerfully in any situation helps and is an incredible advantage. 
Learn how to approach any high-stakes communication situation with confidence, credibility, and professionalism. Nancy will walk you through the basics of effective communication and then you'll practice them

These tips, tricks, strategies, and insights will fill your toolbox with the resources you need to handle complicated conversations with co-workers, employment requests, problem-solving situations, and various management scenarios. Plus, it'll help when you're trying to communicate across the generational divide so that everyone reaches a win-win situation with a smile on their face.



The Inspiration Series

Sometimes you just need some empowerment and encouragement to stick out the tough times and reap the rewards in the end. In TED-talks style storytelling, these horticulture professionals will share their career ups and downs and how they got through to build something incredible — and how you can, too. In open and friendly Q&A time, you'll also be able to ask questions and get to know the backstory of how their careers have grown and evolved over time.


Bridget Behe, PhD | Michigan State University

Bridget will share some insight about her decisions and strategies for her career path that have helped her navigate the industry and its opportunities. Whether you're in academic or not, Bridget's practical approach to building a career will offer impactful insights. She will share some successes (earning tenure at both Auburn University and Michigan State) and failures (misdiagnosing a poinsettia problem, which caused an entire crop loss). Bridget will give you some tips for thriving with a dose of humor and some helpful strategies for leading and managing yourself while working with others to achieve your goals.


Kelly Norris | Horticulture Director, Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Kelly Norris has obsessed over plants since childhood—he’s a proud geek. At the age of 15, he convinced his parents to buy an iris nursery, which was honored by Martha Stewart as one of her American Made winners in 2015. This introduction to horticulture eventually led to two degrees from Iowa State University, three books and his appointment at age 25 as the first director of horticulture for the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden at the beginning of its multimillion dollar revitalization. Kelly is relentlessly passionate about plant diversity. His studies of plants in the wild and how they translate to the built landscape have taught him to abide the social tendencies of plants, to understand them as organisms in the horticultural context instead of treating them like furniture. Though wild at heart, Kelly still believes that horticulture is an act of humanity, an artful opportunity for humans to interact with and positively affect the world around them. In this story-rich presentation set in the gardens and wild places that have inspired him, Kelly will challenge the audience to plant the world a more beautiful, functional place as the world prepares to become increasingly more urbanized in the 21st century.


Steve Black | Owner, Raemelton Farm

In 2004 Steve started Raemelton Farm with the clear objective of using the best, most sustainable cultural practices to produce landscape-ready trees. Rather than just being new for the sake of newness Raemelton seeks to leverage existing ‘farmer smarts’ and ongoing academic research in the development of better ways to grow crops. In 2015 Raemelton used this approach to production R&D to become the first and only USDA certified Organic field production nursery in the US.

Steve will describe the creation of Raemelton Farm and the initiation of it’s R&D efforts. He will cover internal and external communications…from managing millennials to marketing organic trees. Steve will conclude with thoughts on the future of nursery production and the vast opportunities for new professionals in the real green industry.


Tyler Baras | Special Projects Manager, Hort Americas

The dream of working on a picturesque farm away from the cubicle life is what drives many to get into horticulture but the path to that dream is often a little less serene, full of crop failures, bad bosses, painful mistakes, and some tearful car rides home from the farm. I’m so grateful to be where I am now, finally realizing the dream that lead me into horticulture, that I’d gladly repeat the gauntlet of challenges that lead me here. Come laugh with me as I recount the horror stories from some of my previous jobs then watch me giggle with happiness as I share all of the exciting work I’m currently doing! A passion driven career can have a lot of challenges, but I can’t imagine choosing another path.

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