Packed line up announced at second YoungHort conference

The second YoungHort conference will be triple the size of the first - and tickets are nearly sold out.

The YoungHorts pictured at RHS Wisley
The YoungHorts pictured at RHS Wisley

Organisers say 300 students from across the country will attend, from colleges including Askham Bryant, Sparsholt and Pershore and the RHS Wisley and Homebase Academy training schemes, three times as many as the first conference this spring.

There are more speakers too, including RHS director general Sue Biggs, Society of Garden Designers chair Juliet Sargeant, garden designers Andrew Fisher Tomlin and Adam Frost, ethnobotanist and designer James Wong and horticulturists Faye Steer and Jason Daff. Wong and Frost are also RHS ambassadors.

Grow Careers will also launch its promotional video at the conference, the result of The Earth in Our Hands competition. This asked film makers to submit an original storyboard for a film aimed at the 11-18 age group which challenges the stereotypes surrounding horticulture. The winner received a £10,000 production budget.

After the conference BBC Gardener’s Question Time will record a special episode of the Radio 4 show with an audience comprised of young people.

YoungHort director Jamie Butterworth said of the conference: "We’ve tripled the size and tripled the numbers and tripled the space as well so everything is that little bit bigger, we’re really looking forward to it."

YoungHort was formed just 10 months ago by then student Jack Shilley, who is now on a year-long internship at Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. Associate directors Butterworth, Fiona Willets and Jack Dunckley are currently leading the group.

Butterworth said he thought the key to encouraging more young people into the industry was to go into secondary schools and promote it, at the time when most young people are formulating their career choices.

"In primary schools now it’s just about as good as it is going to be. But in secondary schools nobody at all seems to talk about it as an option, unless you’re not getting the grades you’re expected to, and then it suddenly becomes an option.

"I’ve been to a lot of colleges around the country to speak to students from NVQ1 to degree level and it’s amazing the response. A lot of them have just come from high school into hort because they have to stay in education until they are 18. It seems like the easy option, but it’s not."

For tickets visit the YoungHort website.

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