Lincoln, Neb. —Nebraska youth participated in the National Junior Horticulture Association's (NJHA) Convention in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in October. This event included contests for horticulture identification, floral design and photography.
The NJHA convention provided youth with various opportunities to showcase their knowledge and passion for horticulture. The NJHA horticulture Identification competition included an 80-question exam, eight groups of quality judging classes, and identification of 100 horticultural specimens such as seeds, twigs, leaves, fruit, flowers and underground structures.
In addition to the Horticulture Identification contest, the convention also hosted other competitive events including speeches, demonstrations, photography exhibits and more.
In the floral arrangement contest, youth designed floral arrangements that were scored against a set of criteria including category interpretation, mechanics, focal emphasis and balance. The photography contests included divisions in digital photography and still film photography, with classes for unedited, edited and collections of multiple photographs.
While at the convention, the youth not only participated in contests but also attended workshops and toured several gardens.
Nebraska had multiple youths participate in NJHA this year. Paige Wood from Fullerton represented Nebraska on the NJHA Youth Council as the vice president 2022-2023 and will serve as president for 2023-2024. She was recognized as the Grand National Winner in her division for both the horticulture identification contest (ages 19-22) and the floral design contest.
Emily Brhel, Rachel Brhel and Nathan Brhel, three siblings from Fairfield, Nebraska, participated in the photography contest. Emily was the Grand National Winner and Best in Show for her unedited photo “Indigo Glory.” Nathan received an "Outstanding" mark for his unedited photograph “A Burst of Orange.” Rachel received a "Good" for her unedited photo “An Array of Color.”
"Being a part of Nebraska 4-H and NJHA has allowed me to make lifelong friends and connections through horticulture,” said Paige. “I have also learned many new things, and my eyes have been opened to the opportunities within horticulture.”
Last year, she represented Nebraska 4-H on the ID team at NJHA and served as vice president of the NJHA Youth Council. “It was a wonderful chance to get involved in helping to plan this year's convention and contests,” she said. “This year, I was elected president of the NJHA Youth Council, and I cannot wait to start planning next year's convention. I hope to see the organization grow, and more youth compete at the national level."