Welcome to NJHA



The word horticulture comes from two Latin words which mean “garden” and “culture.” Horticulture is the art and science of growing and handling fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, flowers, foliage plants, woody ornamentals, and turf.

Horticulture is different things to different people. It is a science on the cutting edge of biotechnology, an art, profession, business, industry, hobby, way-of-life, and therapy for millions of people. Each of us comes in contact with horticultural products and professions every day of our lives. Horticulture feeds us, improves our environment, and, through science, is helping find answers to tomorrow’s problems.

The National Junior Horticultural Association (NJHA) was founded in 1934 and was the first organization in the world dedicated solely to youth and horticulture. NJHA programs are designed to help young people obtain a basic understanding of, and develop skills in the ever expanding art and science of horticulture. These programs help the horticultural industry by training and recruiting youth in many specialized fields of horticulture. NJHA also develops citizen appreciation for the understanding of the industry by placing emphasis on positive programs for building producer-consumer understanding.


To promote and sponsor educational programs for youth through a variety of projects and activities that foster a better understating of horticulture.

To develop good citizens with a basic understating of nature and an acceptance of responsibility for the environment in which we live.

To acquaint youth with the many and varied career opportunities, vocational and professional, available in the horticultural industry.

To provide young people and their adult leaders with new experiences in group participation, cooperation and leadership at the national level.


Age eligibility for participation in NJHA projects and activities is for youth 22 years of age and under. Not all projects are open to all age levels. Specific ages are specified in the requirements for each activity. Grouping by ages allows youth to compete against other youth with similar abilities. Group projects are to be entered in the age division in accordance with the age of the oldest individual in the group. (Note: eligibility is based on an individual’s age as of December 31 of the year of project participation.)

NJHA is organized in the United States around a network of state leaders. Project participation from outside the USA is encouraged. If any of these activities are of interest, you should get in touch with the National Program Chairperson or Vice Program Chairperson or the Executive Secretary. Project reports should be submitted in English.


The Going and Growing, a newsletter published once a year sometime the beginning of July and available free to youth and leaders who attend a convention or upon request from other interested youth and leaders. Requests to be put on the mailing list should be made to the Executive Secretary.


Membership in the National Junior Horticultural Association is achieved by attending a convention or participation in any NJHA project or activity. There is no enrollment or membership fee. If one should need questions answered, please contact the Executive Secretary.

Carole S. Carney
15 Railroad Avenue
Homer City, PA 15748


NJHA is financed through voluntary contributions from corporations, associations, agencies, and individuals interested in youth and horticulture. New donors are needed to broaden the base of support, to continue and expand services to present members, and to increase publicity and future growth. Youth, leaders, and alumni are encouraged to make contributions to help cover program and operating costs. All contributions are tax deductible under IRS status 501(c).

Checks should be made out to the National Junior Horticultural Foundation. For further information on where to send donations, please contact the NJHA Executive Secretary:

Carole S. Carney
15 Railroad Avenue
Homer City, PA 15748


The Board of Trustees of the National Junior Horticultural Foundation, Inc. (NJHF), is the governing body of the National Junior Horticultural Association. Included on the foundation board are representatives of horticultural related corporations and associations, land-grant universities, the Cooperative Extension Service, FFA, 4-H and youth officers.

The Foundation board appoints personnel to coordinate NJHA programs—National Program Chairperson, National ViceP Chairperson, Adult Advisors, and Executive Secretary. The program chairperson appoints national project leaders, and state program leaders. Youth officers are elected at the NJHA annual convention from delegates and serve through the following convention.

The youth officer team consists of several regional directors, secretary, vice president, president, and past president (who is not elected). Every state represented at convention has youth coordinators that act as the communications link between delegates and the national officer team and assist their state leader. Youth officers are elected at the NJHA annual convention from delegates and serve through the following convention year.


The focus of NJHA is summed up with the acronym HYCEL

H stands for Horticulture. Horticulture is an art, science, business, or hobby used in everyday life.  It is the love and passion for plants.  It conjoins backyards to neighborhoods, and neighborhoods to community, introducing new cultures and a new way of life.

Y stands for Youth.  The youth of today search for knowledge and have a desire to learn new skills.  As youth attain more knowledge and greater skill, they develop a respect for the dignity of work and become more productive and responsible citizens.

C stands for Careers.  A career represents an individual’s life and work in society.  NJHA acquaints youth with horticulture careers to inform them of opportunities to continue their passion into adulthood.  Careers represent the future of horticulture in NJHA.

E stands for Education. NJHA promotes and sponsors an educational program for youth through projects and activities which relate to the understanding of horticulture.

L stands for Leadership.  A leader is someone who moves out in front, who forges ahead with ideas, ambition, and determination to get things done.  A leader motivates others and makes them want to join him or her in an endeavor.  This is the goal of each NJHA member.

Let NJHA introduce you to all the possibilities of the world of gardening. Whether you like to grow plants, give a presentation, take photos, experiment with gardening, or learn how to identify plants, NJHA has an activity for you. While most of the projects and activities are completed by yourself, many of the programs can be multi-person projects such as 4-H, FFA, scouts, vocational horticulture and agriculture groups, and other gardening groups.

Independent youth participate directly in NJHA. With the exception of the Young America Project, Reports and the Horticulture Contest, NJHA does not provide horticultural subject matter information. The speeches, demonstrations, project reports, etc. provide opportunities for youth to gain experience and recognition at the national level. All subject matter presented should be in accordance with accepted practices and knowledge of horticulture science.

The Cooperative Extension Service in your state is a good source for scientifically accurate information. Instructors and leaders in programs for physically or mentally challenged youth may use and adapt NJHA project materials. Special recognition may be provided for reports that are clearly identified with respect to these individuals and/or groups. Recognition is based on individual or group progress. NJHA is organized through a network of state leaders. These individuals determine eligibility rules for participants to compete at the annual NJHA convention.

Youth in States that have a state leader vacancy may participate by contacting the NJHA National Program Chairman or the Executive Secretary.


NJHA offers a diverse group of projects and activities covering all commodity areas of horticulture. Individuals and/or groups may select one or more projects. The following rules are intended as a guide to ensure equal opportunity for all participants.

1. While adult leadership is encouraged, work must have been done by the youth.

2. The work being reported must be the result of efforts conducted predominately in the 12 months prior to the convention. Relevant work from previous years may be reported if it is necessary as supporting information for the current years activities.

3. Eligibility is based on the individual's age as of December 31st of the current activity year.

4. Group projects for the Young America Project should be entered in the age division corresponding to the age of the oldest individual in the group.

5. Project reports must have been compiled by the youth.

6. The following projects/contests are entered by the youth themselves.

All Young America Projects
Poster Contest
35 mm Photography Contest
Digital Photography Contest
Essay Contest

7. Contests and reports with entry dates must be postmarked on or before that date. If unsure of the situation or if difficulties are expected, please contact the individual project chairperson.

8. Individuals receiving a Grand National Award can compete in the contest the following year providing they are entered in an older division of the contest.

9. Youth participants may not change the project area they have entered after 10:00 p. m. on the first night of the convention. Likewise, state leaders, project chairpersons, and judges are also not allowed to make changes after 10:00 p. m. on the first night of the convention., Changes may be made between different divisions (age or subject matter) of a contest at the discretion of the project chairperson, contestant, and state leader. These changes may be made up to the time contests begin. All changes are subject to established quotas of contestants from a state.

10. After a deadline has passed, youth who have entered the wrong division of a contest or the wrong contest may make their presentation and will be evaluated by the judges. However, they will not be eligible for a national or Grand National award. It is up to the judges and the project chairperson to determine the appropriateness of the presentation in relation to the category.

11. Judges, with the consent of the project chairperson, must disqualify any participant or team who:

a. Has not done a significant amount of the work being reported and/or,
b. The activity is entered in the wrong category and;/or,
c. The individual or team has failed to follow contest rules.

12. Participants who are disqualified must receive a statement on their evaluation sheet(s) detailing the reason why they were disqualified. This statement must be signed by the judge(s) and project chairperson. These sheets will be returned in the state leader's packet at the end of but not before the closing awards banquet.

13. Participants caught cheating will be disqualified and banned from future participation in that contest.

14. Schedules listing the times of contests, interviews, and locations will be posted by the project chairperson early on the morning of the contest. It is up to the contestant to check schedules for activities in which they plan to participate.

15. Contest participants are responsible for bringing everything they need for the activity.

16. Youth entering projects and activities must attend the annual convention with the exception of the Young America Projects, 35mm Photography Contest, Digital Photography Contest and the Poster Contest. Youth must be age 15-22 as of Dec 31st of the convention year to attend the convention.

17. Judges will not consult with each other on scores.

18. Only judges may ask questions of contest participants.

19. All demonstrations and speeches are open to any registered participant at a convention. Project report and officer interviews are closed to everyone but the youth participant and judges/committee.

20. Judges will not discuss the results of a presentation with the contest participant, coach, state leader, or anyone else. It is unethical for youth , parents, and leaders to attempt to discuss contests with a judge or learn contest results before presentation of awards.

21. Judges may ask for clarification on rules and regulations from the project leader, national program chairperson, or national vice program chairperson.

22. The decision of the judge (s) is final. Once results have been turned in to the awards chairperson they will not be changed unless the change is valid and has the approval of the project chairperson, national program chairperson, and national vice program chairperson.

23. Judges are encouraged to make detailed constructive comments and suggestions for improvement on evaluation sheets for each participant. This is especially important for youth who have been disqualified.

24. The number of awards given will be at the discretion of the national program chairperson, project chairperson, and judges. In the event that projects of sufficient quality have not been presented, no award will be given.

25. Without exception, convention participants under the influence of, consuming or in possession of alcohol or any illegal substance will be sent home immediately at the expense of the parent(s).

26. All convention participants will conduct themselves as responsible young adults with respect to hotel property and the property of others.


Youth who attend a National Junior Horticultural Association annual convention must be at least 15 but not over 22 by December 31st of the year in which the convention is being held. The convention begins on a Friday (usually the first part of October) and continues through a closing banquet the following Monday.

The site of the convention will vary from year to year and will be hosted by a committee from a participating state and/or the NJHF Executive Committee. Youth who attend conventions are strongly encouraged to participate in one or more of the competitive activities. In addition to the large number of project reports and contests that take place at a National Junior Horticultural Association convention, youth and their leaders will participate in workshops, tours, and presentations of local color.

All states are encouraged to bring exhibits and local horticultural projects for the convention hospitality room. Each delegate should also bring pins to exchange and stickers that represent their state.

For more information about the projects and opportunities that NJHA offers, contact the Executive Secretary

Carole S. Carney
Executive Secretary
15 Railroad Avenue
Homer City, PA 15748

NJHA Creed

We are growing, living parts of this earth.

We are conscious of our desire to cultivate our horticultural abilities and find comfort in sharing this knowledge.

We make our way together, each on a separate path, yet all in the same direction.

We are the National Junior Horticultural Association, and we accept the challenge of being the horticultural leaders of tomorrow.