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Reflections August 2019

Dennis T. Ray

ASHS President


More Endowment Funds = More Student Travel Grants

I have been an ASHS member since 1986. Year after year I would go to the Annual Business Meeting and hear a list of individuals (usually a very short list) who reached milestones in their giving to the ASHS Endowment Fund. I know that universities with large endowment funds can fund many activities on their campuses, but I had no idea how a non-profit organization such as ASHS used these monies. This year, as President-elect, I was tasked with going to most of the Committee Meetings at the Annual Conference, and I was amazed to learn how the Endowment Fund promotes excellence in horticulture through student scholarships and other educational tools.

The American Society for Horticultural Science established the Endowment Fund in 1982 to solicit and disburse monies, from a perpetually invested fund, to support horticultural science and education. There should be no doubt that the Endowment Fund is exclusively for educational and scientific purposes.

The ASHS Endowment Fund Committee has operational oversight of the Fund (the investment of the Fund is professionally managed with ASHS Finance Committee oversight). The Endowment Fund committee is presently very ably led by Ellen Paparozzi (University of Nebraska), and committee membership reflects the diversity of our Society. This committee, through the Endowment Fund, is working to perpetuate the mission of ASHS—that is to promote and encourage national and international interest in scientific research and education in horticulture in all its branches, as well as strengthening our connections with companies allied with horticulture. They have submitted to the Board an impressive list of suggested strategies to increase contributions to the Endowment Fund and recognize donors and recipients of these funds. The Board will be considering and acting upon these suggestions throughout the year.

The main use of Endowment Fund has historically been for student travel grants to the ASHS Annual Conference. In the early years of the Endowment, available funds for disbursement were naturally limited, and a set number of travel grants were established each year. As the fund grew, and when investments did well, more monies were available, though there were relatively few applications for these grants. For several years, most all travel grant applications were able to be funded. However, the number of students seeking travel grants is increasing, and we now are not able to fund all requests each year. In 2019, there were 111 applications, but only 52 grants were able to be awarded. If you go to the ASHS Home Page, under Contributions ( you will find information on the Endowment Fund. Included here are student testimonials as to how being able to travel to a conference helped them advance in their careers in horticulture. By donating to the Endowment Fund, you will be helping ensure that the best and brightest students can become horticultural scientists.

We are continually asked to donate monies to many worthy causes. In fact, while I was writing this “Reflections” I received two phone calls asking for donations from different groups (as an aside, I did give to one). The problem is that we hear these calls so often, we just become numb and it becomes easy to say “no.” However, I have heard from both young professionals and students how their careers have been transformed by going to their first ASHS Annual Conference. As Kaylee South (The Ohio State University, Wooster Campus) said, “I was able to network, and learn more about ASHS and its importance to our industry.” As Paul Thomas (former Chair of the Endowment Committee) said, “If our organization is to accomplish our collective goals of bringing in new talented scientists, we are going to need more members to step up.” In the last five years, less than 6% of the active ASHS membership has contributed to the fund. Since ASHS is a 501(c)(3) organization, your contributions are U.S. tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law.

In my own career, I realize how much I owe to ASHS and how much I have gained from attending the Annual Conferences. Yet, because I did not understand the Endowment Fund, or how these monies are used, I have never contributed. Well, this has changed! I would encourage you to think of the long run of horticulture and join me in contributing to the ASHS Endowment Fund.

Past Reflections Columns:

Seed Your Future: Horticulture Programs Enrollment Summit - Dennis Ray

It's Been Fun! - Janet Cole

The Publishing World is Changing - Janet Cole 

Balance - Janet Cole

What is in a Membership - Janet Cole

Professional Certification: Certified Professional Horticulturist - Janet Cole

Seasons - Janet Cole

Democracy - Janet Cole

Firsts - Janet Cole

Thanks for the Opportunity - Carl Sams

We Can Weather the Storm - Carl Sams

There are Storm Clouds on the Horizon,Open Access ASHS Journals - Carl Sams

Developing Additional ASHS Programs and Activities for Students - Carl Sams

Online Learning Modules Partnership with AAAS - Carl Sams

DOIs, Digitizing, and Open Access - Carl Sams

Conferences and Membership - Carl Sams

Professional Interest Groups - Carl Sams

Beginnings - Carl Sams

Lessons I Have Learned - John Dole

Seed Your Future - John Dole

Recognizing the Value of Ornamental Horticulture - John Dole

Re-imagining ASHS - John Dole

Genetic Engineering - John Dole

Climate Change - John Dole

Pathways to Leadership - John Dole

2017 ASHS Annual Conference - John Dole

Status of the American Society for Horticultural Science - John Dole

Supporting the ASHS Endowment Fund - John Dole

Native Plants - John Dole

Science - John Dole

From the Academic Perspective - John Dole

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