Where have all the youngsters gone? 

Orchids in NZ Editorial April 1993
Reprinted in
Orchid Advocate

I know we are all getting older and it may be that 1 am getting cantankerous, but I our society does not have the young members it once had, and 1 believe other societies are experiencing a similar phenomenon. There has always been a rich sprinkling of senior orchidists able to pass on their years of growing experience There has, however, also always been a large crop of 'youngsters' in their twenties, thirties, and dare 1 say it, in their forties, developing an increasing interest in orchid growing, joining societies and fully entering into their various activities. Their age has allowed them to do many of the physical jobs in the societies at meetings and shows, and have brought in new enthusiasm and ideas which have helped make orchid growing. such a strong and vigorous activity

Over the last year at several societies I have attended, there appears to be a much greater number of senior citizens present; a face under thirty is rare. The fact that they are there is a good thing, but why are we not retaining or attracting new and younger growers? Is our organisation not attractive, do we have the right image, are we not perceived as being friendly, is orchid growing seen as being too expensive at a time of economic constraint - or are there other factors that have given rise to this occurrence?

Without the new blood, new ideas, new enthusiasm, and lets not forget it, new money, the longer term outlook for organised orchid growing cannot he good. Gardening is pastime and there are many orchid growers who do not belong to a society.

Surely there is a major issue here of importance to all leading the organised interest in orchids. There is sure to be no simple answer to this issue, but it is one that we should consider, and try and find reasons for, and answers to. Perhaps it is just a feature of this area, although I suspect it may range further afield. We can all do our best to make it an exciting hobby, and if younger people show interest, let us ensure it is developed to the full. How many of us were introduced into orchid growing by the present of one or several pieces of cymbidiums or the odd back bulb? How many pieces of plants have you given away recently to those who have shown interest in our plants? I know children can he a problem at shows and meetings, but nevertheless it is important to encourage them in the right. way with encouragement and support where interest is displayed in plants, as they may well he the future members of your society.

We can all do something to spread the news orchid growing and invite and encourage new growers to join the Zealand orchid growing fraternity

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