Horticulture faculty member named outstanding undergraduate educator

The American Society for Horticultural Science recognized Bridget Behe for her CANR teaching career at its 2018 conference in Washington, D.C.

The American Society for Horticultural Science recognized Bridget Behe for her CANR teaching career at its 2018 conference in Washington, D.C.

Bridget Behe, PhD, was honored as outstanding undergraduate educator by the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) at its annual conference on July 31, 2018.

Behe has spent much of her 28-year career helping undergraduate students learn to operate profitable horticulture businesses. She has taught in the Department of Horticulture as part of the Michigan State University's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources since 1997.

Bridget-Behe-2018-ASHS-Award

ASHS is a professional organization that promotes national and international interest in scientific research and education. The society includes scientists, educators, students, landscape and turf managers, government, extension educators and industry professionals.

“It is a great honor to be recognized for my teaching career by my professional society and peers,” said Behe. “I love to see graduates I taught working in the industry, happy to be pursuing their dreams and using some of what they learned from me.”

Supporting students

Over her career, Behe has educated hundreds of horticulture students, helping them become better business managers and leaders through her business management and marketing classes. Twelve students have received financial backing using the business plans they developed in her classes.

“I love including new information and teaching methods in my classes and truly enjoy helping students learn,” Behe said. “I can’t teach them everything they need to know about marketing and management, but I can help them build a good basic toolbox, understand how to use those tools, and encourage them to add to the toolbox in the future.”

Behe has served as chair of the CANR Horticulture Scholarship Committee for the past 10 years and was co-advisor for the MSU Student Horticulture Association for six years.

“The day the scholarship committee meets to give out funds is the best day at work each year,” she said. “Whether students buy books or pay for courses, the committee is helping undergraduates realize their dream of a college education by lessening their debt load even just a little bit.”

Research & community education

In addition to her teaching duties, Behe is part of MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension. With AgBioResearch, she works with colleagues to understand consumer plant selection processes though the use of eye-tracking technology.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program awarded her team of researchers a $243,000 grant and has also received industry funds and private gifts to continue the research. Behe has also collaborated on consumer research involving melons, stevia, radio-frequency identification or RFID tags, plant guarantees and marketing practices.

In her MSU Extension work, Behe presents to industry groups and offers a website and podcast called Connect-2-Consumer to, as the name says, help horticulture businesses learn to connect to their consumers. Her goal is to make her research more accessible and easily understandable to those in the horticulture industry.

She credits the support of her husband and son as key to her career success in research, industry education and teaching undergraduate students.

“A college degree is an expensive but worthwhile investment. I’m thrilled to be a part of that learning and skills development for students,” Behe said. “I’ve learned a lot from them and enjoy seeing their successes.”

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