Lawn & Garden Retailer

LGR January 2019

magazine for retailers at gift shops and specialty stores

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86 | LAWN & GARDEN RETAILER | JANUARY 2019 T he Collegiate Plant Initiative (CPI) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to make people who love plants and find the plants people love. Made up of undergraduate students without backgrounds in plant science or related majors, these student leaders love plants and are passionate about sharing this love with as many students as possible. This perspective allows CPI to directly relate to some of the most important people in the horticulture industry — future affluent consumers and educated employees. CPI was inspired by Plants, Gardening and You (PG&Y), an introductory gardening class taught by Dave Clark at the University of Florida. Hundreds of students from every major enroll in PG&Y each semester to learn more about the basics of plants and gardening. Class topics change every week and range from plant domestication and propagation to plant biotechnology and edible landscapes. Students taking PG&Y also receive a plant every week after lecture, which is one of the reasons why enrollment has grown exponentially over the last few years. This consistent supply of plants instills a "plant addiction" in many students, who often have a dorm or apartment full of plants by the end of the semester. Last year, several students fell in love with plants after taking PG&Y and decided to create CPI with Clark. By having this close connection to PG&Y, CPI can collect data on student plant preferences and recruit student talent every semester, as well as stay up to date with the newest trends and attitudes toward plants. Making People Who Love Plants: Connecting to College Students CPI's most noteworthy events, Plant Drops, were created to get as many students as possible exposed to plants and interested in gardening. At each of these events, we bring 1,000 plants to the center of university campuses to give away to passing students for free. "Why free plants?" you may ask. We have discovered that students love plants but feel overwhelmed when shopping for them since they have no idea where to begin or what plants they can easily grow. Placing a hard-to-kill plant in the hands of 1,000 students is one way to reduce this pressure and make buying plants for the first time an easier experience. To date, CPI has conducted Plant Drops at the University of Florida, Penn State University and Texas A&M University with plans to visit many more in the upcoming year. When we visited Texas A&M University, students were so excited about receiving free plants that we managed to give away 1,000 plants in only four minutes! We believe the excitement demonstrated by students across the country directly relates to their love of plants, and we are helping them cultivate this energy into life- long hobbies and careers. While Plant Drops are a wonderful way to gain student attention, maintaining a strong social media presence is one of the most effective ways an organization can keep them engaged. Consistently posting high-quality and relevant content reminds students of our mission and gives them a reason to think about horticulture on an everyday basis. Daily CPI M a r k e t i n g M a r k e t i n g By Virginia Frazier Attracting and Empowering New Customers The Collegiate Plant Initiative is exciting students throughout the country, and garden retailers are the next stop for their newfound plant love.

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