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Speaker: Dr. Bridget Behe, Professor of Horticultural Marketing

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    My Educational Programs / Sessions @ Cultivate

    In the Lab and Out in the Field: Consumer Perspectives
    Monday, July 17 • 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

    Katie Elzer-Peters spends most of her time out among retailers, while Dr. Bridget Behe spends a majority of her time in her lab, reviewing and examining data. These speakers have teamed up to compare and contrast what they see in the field and in the lab. Bridget and Katie will share their perspectives on consumer trends, sustainability, pollinators, and rare plants. They will discuss topics including online and in-store purchases, vegetable and herb purchases, flowering and foliage plant purchases, social media use and trends, and much more!

    Drive Sales of Native Plants through Understanding Consumer Perceptions
    Monday, July 17 • 2:00 PM - 2:50 PM

    Many retailers have a section merchandising native plants because they are becoming increasingly popular and provide a wide variety of benefits when used in landscapes and gardens. Recent HRI-funded research revealed consumer perceptions about native plants. Many perceptions are regional, and consumers’ preferences vary depending on where in the U.S. they live. This session will share how to incorporate the results into more effective marketing of native plants.


    Dr. Bridget Behe 

    Professor of Horticultural Marketing at Michigan State University 

    Dr. Bridget Behe is a Professor Emeritus of Horticultural Marketing at Michigan State University. Before she retired in January 2023 from Michigan State, she taught courses on marketing and management for horticulture majors. Bridget conducted over 500 consumer and market research projects on horticultural products, both edible and ornamental. She wrote nearly 1000 publications in the trade press and peer-reviewed journals. She joined Michigan State’s faculty in August, 1997. Before working at Michigan State, she spent 8 years on the Horticulture faculty at Auburn University (Alabama).

    Bridget earned degrees from Penn State University (Ph.D. Horticulture, B.S. Horticulture, B.S. Agricultural Education) and The Ohio State University (M.S. Horticulture). Each year, she speaks to professionals and industry groups nationally and internationally. She writes articles for trade magazines to share the findings of her consumer research studies. In 2016, she was recognized as the Outstanding Extension Specialist in Michigan. In 2018, she was awarded the American Society for Horticultural Science Undergraduate Educator of the Year. In July 2022, she was awarded a Horticulture Industry Leadership Award. Launched in 2018, Bridget produces a free weekly (10-15 minute) podcast called “Marketing Munchies” and she can contacted at or at 517-881-0876.

    Horticulture at MSU ... science and technology to cultivate human and environmental health.  
    Michigan has long been an important horticultural state. After the forests were cut in the late l800s, farmers moved to Michigan and found good land and climates conducive to growing many horticultural crops. Land located along Lake Michigan is particularly suited for apple, peach and cherry orchards because southwesterly winds sweeping across the lake provide protection from sudden temperature changes. Former swamps are now used to produce blueberries, celery, onions, and other horticultural crops. Nurseries, florists and garden centers are numerous, and urban areas provide ready markets for horticultural products.

    MSU Horticulture FacilitiesAs a subject, Horticulture has been part of the Michigan State University curriculum since this pioneer land grant institution opened in 1857. In 1883 Horticulture became a separate department headed by Liberty Hyde Bailey, who later became known as the "Dean of American Horticulture." Eustace Hall, the first building to be constructed in the United States solely for the teaching and study of horticulture, was completed in 1888, and it remains as the second oldest academic building on campus. The Department has offered MS degrees since 1910 and PhD degrees since 1927.

    The Horticulture Department is known throughout the world for its excellence in teaching and research. In 1986 the MSU Horticulture Department moved into the new Plant and Soil Sciences Building located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Wilson and Bogue Streets. Some of the outstanding features of this facility are computerized greenhouses, excellent research and teaching laboratories, a floral design lab, a retail plant shop, and an autotutorial lab for students.

    Address:   A288 Plant & Soil Science Bldg. East Lansing, MI 48823
    Email:     Contact:   Bridget Behe, PhD
    Phone:    (517) 355-5191 ext 1359   FAX: 


    What is Horticulture? A Modern Applied Plant Science!

    Horticulture is the science and art of the development, sustainable production, marketing, and use of high-value, intensively cultivated food and ornamental plants. Horticultural crops are diverse; they include annual and perennial species, delicious fruits and vegetables, and decorative indoor and landscape plants. These specialty crops help sustain and enrich our lives by providing nutritious food, enhancing the beauty of our homes and communities and reducing our carbon footprint.


    Researchers evaluate carrot and cherry yields, two food specialty crops.

    Horticulture also contributes to quality of life, and the beauty, sustainability and rehabilitation of our environment and the human condition (e.g., see  Environmental horticulture (i.e., the “green industry”), is composed of careers in greenhouse production, wholesale brokers, commercial nurseries, garden centers, florists and landscape design and construction firms, as well as private and community gardens, municipal parks and state or national reserves.  Michigan ranks third in floriculture/greenhouse production, with wholesale crops valued at over $400 million, where, for example, bedding/annual garden plants account for over half of those sales – leading the U.S. A recent report out of Texas A&M University and the University of Florida concluded that the green industry in the U.S. had direct employment of 1.6 million individuals, nearly $14 billion in sales, and direct economic output of $136 billion.  Michigan is among the top 10 states in terms of employment in the green industry.

    Why Study Horticulture at MSU?

    The Department of Horticulture at MSU is dedicated to providing the highest-quality education and is one of the largest horticulture programs in the U.S. As the nation’s first Horticulture Department, we are proud to maintain a tradition of excellence spanning more than 150 years.  See why our students love horticulture and love studying it at MSU!


    Students at MSU learning Plant Identification for the green industry.

    In addition, MSU has a very active Student Horticulture Association club that allows YOU to get involved in many aspects of horticulture while having fun.


    The Student Horticulture Association at the homecoming parade.

    Careers in Horticulture

    Practitioners of horticulture are as diverse as the crops that make up the industry and the discipline.  They include a wide array of individuals and groups who farm, landscape, garden, research, advise and enjoy the bounty of horticultural plants for their nourishment, health benefits and aesthetics.  For more information, visit our Careers in Horticulture page.

    The Need for Horticulture Professionals

    A strong and sustained need for horticulture professionals exists.  This is true in Michigan, the Great Lakes region, nationally and internationally; and is as true for small, local operations as it is for larger commercial enterprises.  The Department of Agriculture census estimated U.S. fresh market vegetable production at 18 million metric tons and a value of nearly $12 billion in 2015.  Similarly, U.S. (non-citrus) fruit and nut production was valued at over $26 billion for approximately 22 million tons in 2014.  In addition, it is estimated that the global urban horticulture market is worth nearly $300 billion. 

    Michigan produces over 300 commodities, making it the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation, and exports internationally to Canada, Mexico, Japan, China, South Korea, etc.  These successful horticultural operations depend on expertise in areas such as physiology, breeding, molecular biology, pomology, viticulture, and greenhouse management to enhance yield and improve production. The 2014 U.S. Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture concluded that too few scientists are being trained in agricultural disciplines like horticulture.