The American Floral Endowment announces scholarship recipients
Caleb Spall, Mason Marshall and Mary Lewis
Provided by AFE

The American Floral Endowment announces scholarship recipients

Learn about the research of AFE's Paul Ecke, Jr. and Altman Family Scholarship recipients.


These flower fanatics aren’t shy about their love for immersing themselves in industry issues and searching for real, practical solutions. With technology, sustainability, and possibilities on the brain, all three recipients are aiming high for the floral future with hopes to give back to the industry through their career endeavors. They cite the American Floral Endowment's Altman & Ecke Scholarships affording them the time and funds to pursue precise projects, ease the financial burden of their education, and expand their work. With unwavering dedication, these scholars have big plans for their studies and research.


2021 Paul Ecke, Jr. Scholar – Caleb Spall

In honor of the late Paul Ecke, Jr., the Paul Ecke, Jr. Scholarship awards $5,000 a year for two years ($10,000 total) to a dedicated MS/PhD student attending a US land-grant university. Paul Ecke, Jr. was a highly respected, long-time member of the industry who contributed vital knowledge through innovative research and education programs. This scholarship is awarded to passionate graduate students interested in contributing to the industry in a like spirit through research and education. For more information, click here.

Caleb Spall has been pursuing his MS in Horticulture at MSU with many notable grants, awards, and leadership titles under his belt. His focus lies in lighting practices, and since August 2020, he’s been involved in a collaborative project with industry entities like Bloom Studios, Fluence, and Sakata Ornamentals, producing meaningful results in cut flower research. Like a true Ecke Scholar, he’s set out to pass on the industry knowledge he’s gained by stepping into additional positions like MSU Student Horticulture Association mentor. He hopes that this collaboration continues to be a common theme of the industry in the pursuit of more sustainable techniques in lighting systems, biological control, and reducing chemical reliance. As Caleb continues his education, his plans for the Ecke funds include both sharing research and learning more about these concepts through conferences on domestic and international levels.


2021 Altman Family Scholars – Mason Marshall and Mary Lewis

Passionate industry advocacy is a staple for the Altman Family Scholarship. Created in 2015 by Ken and Deena Altman, this Scholarship seeks to support improvement in horticulture education and research by investing in outstanding, young industry professionals. For more information, click here.

Mason Marshall, Texas A&M University

Marshall graduated with a bachelor’s degree in horticulture and minors in entomology and plant breeding. Today, he’s pursuing his master’s at Texas A&M in Horticulture Science. Through graduate school, he branched into floriculture through research in the efficacy of plant growth regulators on potted plant sunflowers and potted plant production in a greenhouse. These projects have allowed Marshall to help introduce new hybrid sunflowers to the market with unique branching habits and continuous flowering capabilities. Marshall hopes to enter the private sector, academic extension, or even continue his work with sunflowers. He believes the possibilities are endless for those who enter the floriculture and horticulture industry, as they are for him. Moving forward, he’d love to finally share the research he’s been working on and showcase a bit of what the scholarship funds have gone towards to give back to the industry. 

Mary Lewis, University of Georgia

Lewis got her bachelor’s degree in horticulture at the University of Georgia. Since then, she has not only been pursuing her PhD in ornamental plant breeding but has been awarded AFE scholarships on multiple occasions, accumulated recognition in numerous research competitions, and even interned at Disney. Fascinated by breeding, Mary’s research focuses specifically on the interspecific hybridization of asclepias. In the future, she hopes to enter the field of ornamental plant breeding and be a sort of liaison for growers, informing them on how to be successful in growing the plants she creates. Through possibly joining a committee, connecting with a college, or volunteering, she hopes she can give back to the industry she loves.

Learn more about the recipients here.