Wednesday 19 March 2014
TV scientist to help raise the profile of horticultural science and botany.
TV presenter, ethnobotanist and best-selling author James Wong is to become an RHS Ambassador. As part of his new role James will have a special focus on championing horticultural science and will work alongside other RHS Ambassadors and the horticultural industry to raise the profile of careers in horticulture.
To launch his role James will ‘take over’ the RHS twitter feed (https://twitter.com/The_RHS) on 21 March 2014, during National Science Week. He will celebrate why horticultural science is amazing to the RHS’ 54,000 followers and answer their questions.
James, who is a regular on the BBC rural affairs series Countryfile, and has presented an award winning BBC series of programmes called ‘Grow Your Own Drugs’ that introduced a fresh modern take on the preparation of a broad range of plant-based remedies, has a life- long passion for botany that he is keen to share.
As an RHS Ambassador James will be work across the entire horticultural sector and with RHS scientists to inspire future generations to get excited about scientific discoveries, be it learning how gardeners can support pollinators through understanding which beneficial plants to grow, or appreciating the fundamental role plants play in keeping us and our planet alive.
James’ appointment comes after the charity announced in November that Alan Titchmarsh was to be of its first Founder RHS Ambassador. RHS Ambassadors are exceptional and influential individuals who have the desire to promote horticulture and help the charity make a difference to people’s lives, secure the future of horticulture and help safeguard the planet.
Speaking about his appointment James says: “I’m incredibly proud to be asked to do such important work, not just for the RHS, but for all of UK horticulture.
“I know from my own experience of teaching young people ethnobotany there is a real appetite out there for horticulture, but there are still many people of all ages who don’t fully appreciate the importance and relevance of horticultural science to their lives. Through this role I hope to play a part in changing that.”
RHS Head of Science Dr Alistair Griffiths says: “We are delighted that James has agreed to work alongside us to promote horticultural science and help to inspire a new generation of botanists and horticultural scientists.
“Botany and horticultural science provides us with knowledge that benefits people throughout the world and contributes in many ways to the sustainability and cultural heritage of our planet. It also helps us pollinate our trees, manage pests, improve human, animal and plant health, facilitate trade, respond to climate change, conserve our environment, and much more.
“We’re really proud of the scientific work we do at the RHS. No other charity invests as much of its resource into the scientific study of gardening, garden plants and horticulture. Having James on-board, with his botanical knowledge and infectious enthusiasm, means we are in a great position to amaze and inspire others about how beneficial and satisfying a career in botany and horticulture can be.”
Notes to editors
A survey of 1,000 adults, aged 18 to 56+, across the whole of the United Kingdom in March 2012, revealed:
• Nearly 70% of 18-year-olds do not think gardening is a career to be proud of
• Nearly 80% of under-25-year-olds are not interested in a career in horticulture
• Almost 50% of under-25-year-olds do not think gardening is a career to be proud of
• Almost 50% of under-25-year-olds do not think gardening is a skilled career
• Nearly 70% of 18-year-olds think gardening should only be considered as a career if you have failed academically
• Almost 25% say not knowing enough about careers in horticulture is why they are not interested in a career in horticulture
• 70% of all adults questioned said horticulture/gardening was not highlighted to them as an opportunity by their careers advisor or teacher when leaving education
A survey of 200 horticultural businesses in 2013 showed that only 15% of the industry is under 25 years old and 46% is over the age of 45. In a poll of 20 UK growers last year, 95% of horticultural growers questioned said they struggled to find enough young British job applicants with sufficiently good skills to employ.
James Wong will also be publishing a book with the RHS called RHS The Flavour Grower's Manual (Mitchell Beazley, Spring 2015).
About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.
Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 210 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.
RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join
The RHS Lindley Library houses and cares for the finest collection of horticultural literature in the world, including a comprehensive collection of 19thc books on the ‘Language of Flowers’. Researchers can consult these books by appointment. For more information call: 0207 8213050 or visit http://www.rhs.org.uk/About-Us/RHS-Lindley-Library.
RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262