Announcing the 2019 Proven Winners $25,000 Scholarship Winners

Sycamore, IL — As a leader in horticulture, Proven Winners believes it is our responsibility to look to the future of not only our own brand, but the green industry as a whole. In our pursuit of ensuring its success and growth, we can’t help but seek out the next generation of innovators and leaders that will usher us into the future. We recognize individuals who exemplify excellence in three distinct areas of study—plant breeding, growing and horticultural marketing—and award scholarships to those whose philosophies most align with our own. Since the inception of this program in 2014, we are increasingly encouraged by the talent and enthusiasm demonstrated by our applicant pool. The future of horticulture is certainly looking bright.

This year, we received applications from over 100 bright young men and women enrolled in four-year colleges and universities, graduate programs, and technical or 2-year post-secondary programs. After much deliberation, we are excited and proud to announce the 2019 scholarship recipients.

New flowers and plants are the lifeblood of our industry. Today’s consumer is increasingly conscious about chemical use however still demands ease of maintenance when looking to beautify their home landscape. We are excited to announce the winner of the Innovations in Plant Breeding Scholarship, Andrej Svyantek (North Dakota State University) who is actively working to meet that demand while “striving to create fruit, flowers, and ground-covers that are morphologically unique and pleasing to the heart and soil”.

Quality plant material produced by talented and hard-working growers is absolutely essential for success, no matter the brand. But does the meaning of “quality” extend beyond healthy, well-performing plants? Katelin Borden (University of Florida) certainly seems to think there is. She claims that she wants to grow “new plants using advancements in propagation and tissue culture to nourish, beautify, heal, improve our world and educate the people in it.” We are proud to award Katelin our Grower Excellence Scholarship and support her as one of the next generations of great plantsmen and women.

A passion for plants will only take us so far in securing future market growth. That is why Proven Winners recognizes the importance of horticultural marketing. Renata Goossen (Kansas State University) said it best: “Even though horticulture is an old industry, it is also fast changing. Innovative and new products are necessary to compete in such a vast industry”. Her desire is to create a broad representation of the horticulture industry on multiple levels. We are thrilled to announce Renata as the recipient of the Innovations in Horticultural Marketing Scholarship award for 2019.

Many horticulture students begin their post-secondary schooling at 2-year or vocational schools as a way to enter the workforce sooner. Since horticulture tends to be a very hands-on career with much knowledge gained through work experience, this is an excellent way to break into the industry. We are proud to support five exemplary students who have chosen this route for their schooling and wish them the best of success for the future.

Congratulations to: Ninway Aziz (Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture), Kelvin Devries (Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture), Kasandra Hernandez (Cuyahoga Community College), Felicia Millett (University of Connecticut), and Matthew Witemyre (Merritt College). Whether by increasing urban green spaces or embracing modern technology to bring plants into the home landscape, we are sure their efforts will further advance the horticultural industry in the future not only ensuring our success but bettering the world we all share.

For more information about this year’s winners, and to learn about how to apply for consideration next year, please visit