Twitter friends' inspired initiative YoungHort to hold its first conference

An initiative started on Twitter aimed at promoting and showcasing young horticulturalists' work is to hold its first conference with top industry figures booked to appear.

YoungHort director Jack Shilley wants young horticulturalists to gain more recognition
YoungHort director Jack Shilley wants young horticulturalists to gain more recognition

YoungHort was an idea created by a group of keen online horticulturalists which was formalised by 18-year-old Sparsholt College student, Jack Shilley, who gathered a team of YoungHort ambassadors to spread the word.

Now the organisation has announced its first conference on 7 March at RHS Wisely. Television botanist James Wong, garden designer Paul Hervey-Brookes and Thompson and Morgan new product development director Michael Perry are already booked to attend.

The free event, held at RHS's flagship garden in Surrey, aims to bring together young - aged up to 25 - horticultural industry workers and students to showcase their work.

It also hopes to promote young people’s input at a time when there is a noticeable skills gap and a widespread belief that young people are not interested in horticulture.

The day will feature a series of inspirational talks and a discussion on how to improve the image of horticulture among young people and a networking session with industry representatives.

Shilley, who is studying a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horticulture at the Hampshire College and works weekends at Longacres Garden Centre in Bagshot, said: "I started the physical organisation because there was no one site or group that was dedicated to young people in the industry.

"YoungHort will provide events, career days and more as well as online content tailored to the skilled young people in the industry."

The initiate has also attracted the support of the RHS, the IoH and Grow Careers.

Shilley said he was thrilled at the interest the initiative had got so far.

Shilley added: "I hope from creating this initiative young people in the industry will gain more recognition and I hope that as a team we can encourage more young people to choose a career in horticulture - after all, it's a wonderful, healthy job choice."

The YoungHort Conference is free to attend to those who register on the Young Hort website.

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