The Covid pandemic brought in-person education events to a halt in 2020. Our Florida industry partner, FANN, had been delivering all of their continuing education for green industry professionals in person. FANN had long wanted to develop online education but lacked the capacity to do it. Together, we developed an approach for moving existing continuing education classes to online formats that meet state standards for attendee engagement and content comprehension.
To help FANN make the shift to online, we engaged an intern, Mitzy Sosa, to work with somewhat technology-averse growers and assist them in delivering their content remotely via computer. Mitzy’s enthusiasm for native plants – she’s been growing them at her apartment and on her college campus with her research professor – combined with her cheerful patience and willingness to dig into technical problems, has made this a successful endeavor. Mitzy is a biology student at Florida Atlantic University, graduating in 2021 with a bachelors in biology and an environmental science certificate.
In addition to developing online continuing education classes, Mitzy is helping us capture the expertise and insights of seasoned native plant professionals through remote recorded interviews. Many native plant nursery, landscape and restoration experts are pioneers who had to figure out on their own how to propagate speces, how to grow them to expected quality standards, use them successfully in landscaping and restoration projects and sell them to skeptical customers. While many native plant professionals have formal educations, they are also graduates of the “School of Hard Knocks,” learning from costly business mistakes, failures and successes. Mitzy is working to bring their valuable lessons learned to the next generation in easily accessed digital formats.