The heats are open to students of horticulture and young horticultural professionals working in the industry. The winner of the competition will receive a £2,500 travel bursary from The Percy Thrower Trust, provided by the Shropshire Horticultural Society, to undertake a trip, anywhere in the world, to study a subject related to their chosen field of horticulture. There are three ways of taking part: attend one of the heats taking place in colleges and venues throughout the Institute’s eight branches, at a work-place with a Chartered Institute of Horticulture approved supervisor or via SKYPE. The closing date for entries is 1 February 2016.
Competitors have a number of chances to get cash rewards for their efforts, plus there are lots of opportunities to meet and network with other young horticulturists. The competition is run in three phases: local heats, regional finals and the grand final, each with questions covering a range of horticultural subjects. Heat winners go forward to one of eight regional finals, and the winner of each regional final progresses to the Grand Final which will be held on 7 May 2016 at Glasnevin Botanic Gardens, Dublin.
Andrew Gill C Hort FCIHort, president of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture said: "As ever, I am excited about the launch of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture Young Horticulturist of the Year competition which just gets better each year and I am hugely looking forward to the Grand Final in Dublin. Last year over 1,800 young horticulturists from around the UK and Ireland competed for the title. Since the competition started in 1990 an incredible estimated 25,000 people have participated in this prestigious annual competition which attracts more positive coverage for the profession each year.
"We are indebted to our national sponsors: The Shropshire Horticultural Society, which is the major sponsor of the competition and who, through the Percy Thrower Trust, provide the Travel Bursary prize for the winner and also the considerable sponsorship of the Grand Final, the recruitment company MorePeople, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Wyevale Garden Centres Ltd. There are also many regional and local sponsors and I am also delighted for 2016 to welcome The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), as a new Gold national sponsor.
"When I see the learning and intelligence of these young horticulturists it strengthens my resolve to ensure that the profession they have committed to attracts the status and respect it deserves from society."
The 2015 YHoY winner Jessica Evans, senior gardener at National Trust, Tintinhull Gardens in Somerset said: "I am delighted to have won the Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 competition and look forward to using the travel bursary to further my training in horticulture. Having finished second in the competition last year, my over-whelming emotion when the final scores were announced was relief, especially as this was the last year I would be eligible to enter. I would now really like to support the running of the competition, and to encourage others to take part, as it is vitally important to celebrate the quality and knowledge of young horticulturists. I’m not sure yet where the travel bursary will take me, but I will be looking to find best examples of horticultural standards to give myself something to work towards."
To find out more about the competition and how to take part visit the Young Horticulturist of the Year pages at www.horticulture.org.uk