The American Floral Endowment (AFE) is an independent non-profit organization that funds research and scholarships in floriculture and environmental horticulture for the benefit of growers, wholesalers, retailers, allied industry organizations, and the general public.
History of AFE
1961: The Society of American Florists Endowment (SAFE) is incorporated. Six trustees administer the organization on a volunteer-basis. Charles Pennock is the group's first chairman; his home in Pipersville, Pa., serves as the base of operations. John Henry Dudley is named treasurer. Contributor and financial records are maintained in his office at the John Henry Company on Lansing, Mich.
1965. Files and secretarial duties are turned over to Erma Houston (Cook), the executive director of the Wholesale Florists and Florist Suppliers of America. Houston is named assistant secretary; she holds the position until 1968.
1966. SAFE is granted an exemption from federal income tax, making contributions tax deductible.
1968. Records and secretarial functions are moved to the Society of American Florists' office. John H. Walker is executive director.
1973. The Endowment's first national Phone-a-thon is conducted, raising nearly $500,000 in cash and pledges. The fundraiser is conducted every five years through 2005. Betty Seitz Abrams becomes liaison between SAF and SAFE.
1973. George Staby, Ph.D., receives funding toward his research on the post-harvest cold chain, which ultimately results in the "Chain of Life" program. Gus De Hertogh, Ph.D., the Endowment's research coordinator, calls this research "among the most important projects the Endowment has ever helped fund."
1978. Florists' Mutual Insurance Company - known today as Hortica Insurance - offers to digitally store Endowment contributor records at its headquarters in Edwardsville, Ill.
1979. Abrams is named executive director. Operations are centralized at her home in Edwardsville until she retires in 1993.
1984. Trustees change the organization's name to the American Florists Endowment. Two years later, in 1986, they change the name again, this time to the American Floral Endowment.
1988. The Endowment announces it has awarded more than $2.2 million in grant funding since its inception. The Endowment's corpus exceeds $3 million.
1992. Vic and Margaret Ball give $800,000 to AFE to provide internships and scholarships for students interested in pursuing careers in greenhouse production. The donation represents the largest in the group's history.
1993. The Trustees purchase a building as the headquarters for the Endowment in Edwardsville.
1993. At the time of Abrams retirement, Bob Stoeckl is hired as executive vice president. Scientific research and educational programs expand significantly.
1995. AFE establishes its website, www.endowment.org. The site is upgraded in 2001 and again in 2010.
1997. The corpus grows to about $9 million. Grant funding grows to about $5 million.
1999. Steven F. Martinez is hired as executive director. Gus De Hertogh, Ph.D., is retained as AFE Research Coordinator.
2001. In honor of former chairman Jim Botsis, the Endowment establishes the Jim Botsis Wholesaler's Educational Program to benefit wholesalers. For the next 10 years, the Endowment gives $2,500 to the Wholesaler Florists & Florist Supplier Association for educational programming.
2005. Operations move to Hortica headquarters in Edwardsville, Ill. Hortica management assumes oversight responsibilities for AFE's operations and staff.
2006. AFE and the Floral Industry Research and Scholarship Trust (FIRST) merge. AFE is now able to offer over 18 additional scholarships.
2006. Industry veteran Sten Crissey is hired as vice president of development and industry relations. Julie Schottel is hired as administrator.
2008. Trustees transfer AFE management to the Society of American Florists. The AFE office is moved to SAF headquarters in Alexandria, VA. Longtime SAF staff member Debi Aker is named manager.
2008. In honor of her parents, Lee Phillip Bell gives $500,000 to establish the James and Helen Phillip Endowed Scholarship Fund. The fund supports young people who aspire to a career in retail floral design and operations.
2010. The market value of the Endowment corpus stands at about $10 million. Since 1961, the Endowment has funded $14 million toward research and provided more than $400,000 in scholarships and internships. The Endowment announces its first Paul Ecke Jr. MS/PhD scholarship.
As AFE celebrates its 50th anniversary, thank you for your continued support.