June 7, 2024
High school curriculum inspired a passion for plants
Elliot Alkemade Young received the $1,000 Casey van Maris Memorial Scholarship in 2023 from the Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation (Foundation). This scholarship is available to Ontario students entering their first year of a full-time post-secondary ornamental horticulture program at an accredited educational institution. Candidates are chosen based on their academic performance, as well as a two-page essay about why the student wants to enter the horticulture industry. Alkemade Young heard about the scholarship from his Niagara-area high school’s Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) teacher.

"When I received my scholarship, I felt like buying another plant!"
— Elliot Alkemade Young

Once he graduates from Niagara Parks School of Horticulture, Alkemade Young plans to pursue Red Seal certification and build a career that allows him to: “Be with plants, and do something that I enjoy and is meaningful.” Alkemade Young also enjoys camping, hiking, and playing guitar, as well as reading to expand his knowledge of the world and horticulture.

Describe any early exposure you might have had to landscaping and horticulture.

I helped family friends with lawn mowing, weed whacking and other outdoor chores. I then took the Green Industries SHSM course in high school and learned more about plant ID and landscape design. I also worked for my uncle's arboriculture company, Shorthills, for two summers.

Who are your role models in the profession?

I look up to and respect all of my teachers, however the person who inspired and motivated me to pursue a career in horticulture the most was my SHSM teacher, Darren Schmahl.

What prompted you to pursue a career in landscaping or horticulture?

Many things prompted me to pursue horticulture, including my grandparents owning greenhouses and [the fact that] many of my other family members also went into horticulture. I also went camping and hiking a lot from a young age and throughout my life.

What are the benefits of a career in the profession?

My favourite part about horticulture is how much variety there is in the field and how many different opportunities there are to make a difference in the world.

The Ontario Horticultural Trades Foundation is a charitable organization whose mandate is to “ensure a healthy future for the horticulture industry.” To learn more about the many scholarships available under the Foundation and Cullen Family Scholarship Program, please visit ohtf.ca/scholarships.