The American Floral Endowment (AFE) and Floriculture Industry Research & Scholarship Trust (FIRST) have merged, creating a united organization that will become the floriculture industry’s comprehensive endowment for both research and scholarship grants. AFE will remain the name of the organization.
While the exploration has been in the works for nearly a year, both boards approved a plan to proceed in April and finalized the merger in early July. FIRST, as an organization, will dissolve and become an important part of AFE. Three individuals from FIRST will join the AFE board and several others will serve as advocates on various committees. Three individuals from FIRST have been elected to the AFE board of Trustees: Ken Altman, Altman’s Specialty Plants, Vista, Calif.; PJ Ellison, Ellison’s Greenhouses, Brenham, Texas; and Tom Van Wingerden, Metrolina Greenhouses, Huntersville, N.C.
FIRST’s strength in scholarships complements AFE’s strength in research and will bring more students into AFE’s educational programs. Both organizations also have a strong heritage and the potential to bring industry segments together. AFE, an $11 million endowment, and FIRST, a $1.7 million endowment, both have deep roots in the floriculture industry.
“After a great deal of soul searching, FIRST’s board of directors decided the best way to invest in floriculture’s future and put more dollars back into research and scholarships is to join a leading national organization with the same mission — AFE,” said Delilah Onofrey, president of FIRST. “Aside from reducing overhead, the number-one benefit is the industry will hear a common message to fund research and education. The merged organization will become the foundation for the entire industry and provide a full menu of giving options. As an industry, let’s make the most of this opportunity!”
American Floral Endowment Chair Wanda Weder stated, “AFE is excited about the FIRST merger moving forward to completion. Our mission statements are kindred, and consolidating efforts is a logical and practical endeavor. It makes good sense for the organizations and for the industry. FIRST has an excellent track record attracting candidates for scholarships. The Endowment looks forward to increasing its activities in educational development and its contact with the bedding plant industry. We also welcome the expertise that members of FIRST will bring to the AFE Board of Trustees and Committees."
For more information, contact Amy Ligibel at firstname.lastname@example.org  or (618) 692-0045.