MorePeople are proud supporters of the Young People in Horticulture Association (YPHA.) Committee members, Abigail Stocker (Membership Manager) Liam Cleary (Co-founder and Social Secretary) and Kyle Ross (Technical Officer and Project Manager) sat down to answer some of our questions about the association.
When and why was the YPHA set up?
Liam: YPHA was set up in January 2020 to help create a connection for people under the age of 35 across all aspects of horticulture, with the hope that members would grow with self-confidence within the industry and want to make horticulture their career for life and not a passing point.
Abigail: YPHA was created in January 2020 to unite the scatterings of under 35s working in horticulture, to facilitate collaboration, education and innovation better. YPHA’s primary focus at the time of its conception was to consider how the industry might evolve to appeal to a younger demographic than has previously been the case, both in terms of future horticultural employees and future garden centre customers. Whilst we are still working on rebranding horticulture to appeal to a younger demographic, the YPHA network has evolved into so much more. We provide a supportive network for every member and have been reigniting the social side of the industry with educational seminars and events, both in-person and online.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing horticulture at the moment, and how do you think YPHA can support this?
Abigail: The primary obstacle currently confronting horticulture is the perception that it lacks recognition and value as a diverse career path, mainly due to insufficient exposure within the education system. YPHA has made commendable progress in addressing this concern, particularly through its influential written statement to the House of Lords and subsequent research efforts. The key finding indicates that horticulture is not adequately integrated into the educational curriculum, leading to a lack of awareness and appreciation for the field as a viable career option.
YPHA's ongoing commitment to advocating for the inclusion of horticulture as a standalone subject in the science curriculum at all Key Stages is pivotal. The emphasis on providing comprehensive information about horticultural careers to career guidance, teachers and counsellors is also crucial in reshaping perceptions. The recommendation to expand TIAH's remit to encompass the ornamental sector further strengthens YPHA's strategic approach.
Continuing to champion the cause of integrating horticulture into the curriculum and conducting thorough data collection and analysis will be instrumental in garnering support for this challenge. By persistently advocating for these changes, YPHA is poised to play a pivotal role in reshaping the narrative around horticulture and fostering a more supportive and recognized environment for those considering a career in the field.
Kyle: The lack of people entering the industry is a key challenge facing the sector, with the reduction in horticultural education available across the UK it means fewer people are aware of the variety of roles available. YPHA intends to bring Horticulture to the forefront of people's minds and hopefully inspire the next generation of hortifolk.
What YPHA achievement are you, personally, most proud of?
Liam: It is hard to choose just one achievement that I am proud of in the short time since YPHA started. It’s amazing what has been achieved so far with over 700 members and still growing, and multiple online and in-person events a year. However, if I did have to choose one achievement it would have been our recent event at Haws Watering Can and David Austin Roses, looking around that day and seeing 100 people from all over the country, from different horticultural backgrounds, enjoying themselves, learning and networking together, it was at this point I felt that we are making a difference to our members and the industry and excited me for what is still to come.
Abigail: Selecting a single achievement from YPHA's impressive track record since its inception is challenging, given the organization's rapid growth to over 700 members and the diverse array of initiatives we've undertaken. However, if I had to pinpoint one accomplishment, it would be the success of our in-person events. Witnessing a diverse group of members from various horticultural backgrounds across the country, all engaged in learning and networking consistently marks a pivotal moment for me. It underscores the impact YPHA is making on our members and the industry at large. These events, often described by members as "unforgettable" and "informative," stand out as valuable experiences. Members express genuine gratitude for the networking opportunities and knowledge that YPHA provides, noting that they "gain a wider industry understanding" with each attendance. Being able to offer these professionally and personally enhancing experiences reinforces the notion that YPHA contributes to keeping the current workforce engaged and inspired in the horticultural field.
Kyle: Our two in-person events both had an attendance of 80+ members and the fact we have grown to 750+ members in 3 years.
How do your Key Partners and Supporters play a part in YPHA?
Abigail: The involvement of Key Partners and Supporters is instrumental in advancing the mission of YPHA, contributing significantly to our initiatives aimed at retaining and nurturing young talent to and within the horticultural industry. YPHA operates with a sponsorship model comprising two levels: ‘Key Partner’ and ‘Supporter’, each spanning a two-year term. Both sponsorship tiers provide essential resources and funding that are crucial for the sustainability of our association. The financial and resource support from our Key Partners and Supporters, along with voluntary committee positions is instrumental in enabling YPHA to maintain its commitment to offering free membership to our growing member base. This collaborative backing is foundational to the success of YPHA's efforts in engaging and supporting the next generation of horticultural professionals. It ensures that we can continue our vital work without financial barriers, fostering an environment that encourages the active participation and development of young individuals within the horticultural sector.
Have you got anything exciting coming up that you can share with us?
Abigail: Come and see us on 20th February at The Garden Press Event in London, where we’ll be launching our first member development group programme. This one’s not to be missed! Not going to be at the show? You can also follow us on Instagram @yphorticulture to keep up to date with future developments.
Kyle: Keep your eyes peeled for our next in-person event in February!