Looking back over the four years she spent studying horticulture at the University of Florida, Jennifer Parrish credits the National Horticulture Foundation with helping her explore just how diverse and special that industry is.
A four-year recipient of the James H. Davis Scholarship, Parrish in 2003 earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape and Nursery Horticulture. During her time at UF, Parrish also served as a member of the university’s Environmental Horticulture Club where she attended class trips to Costa Rica, California and Italy touring public gardens and nursery operations.
“The nice thing about NHF is they also provide monetary support for the student trip at UF,” Parrish said. “I think that’s invaluable - to travel to other countries and see how they are doing things as well.”
Named in honor of the late founder and owner of Davis Tree Farm, the James H. Davis Memorial Scholarship aims to provide career paths for qualified students in need of financial support to help them become part of the horticulture industry.
The scholarship is awarded nationally to 10-15 students each year, with award amounts ranging from $500 to $3,000, according to Linda Reindl, NHF’s executive director.
“NHF wants to help foster young people in the industry as the Board understands students will be the next generation of leaders,” Reindl said.
To qualify, students must be or plan to enroll full-time in a horticulture program or related field and maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average. The annual deadline to apply is January 15.
A native of South Florida, Parrish grew up in the horticulture industry working alongside her parents, Wes and Vickie Parrish at the family’s nursery. But it wasn’t until she arrived at UF that she realized just how unique the industry was.
“Looking back now, I realize how special the nursery industry is, as far as being more like a family,” Parrish said. “Obviously, that was just normal for me.”
In addition to providing funds for her to pursue her education, Parrish said she also made invaluable personal connections each year at FNGLA’s Landscape Show, an annual trade show based in Orlando. UF’s Horticulture Club each year travels to the show to update NHF’s Board of Trustees on what students gained during their annual class trips.
Upon graduation, Parrish, who lives in Apopka, worked for five years at Agri-Starts as part of that company’s sales team. She then took a position at Farm Credit, where she has for the past eight years served as part of the company’s crop insurance team.
“We provide insurance for nurseries, citrus, blueberries, hay and some vegetables,” Parrish said. “It’s neat to be able to work with all the different industries.”
For more information on the James H. Davis Scholarship, visit NHF’s website.