HERNDON, Va. – The PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation is expanding its mission. In additional to providing scholarships, the foundation will engage in a public awareness campaign to attract people into a career in the landscape and lawn care industry. For more than a decade, PLANET AEF has focused on providing scholarships to students pursuing education to prepare them for a career in the landscape industry. To date, the Foundation has awarded $811,400 in scholarships to 786 students, with a fund balance of $3.8 million. However, through its strong partnership with faculty and with landscape industry companies, the foundation’s leadership became aware of the need not only to support students who are already attending landscape industry college programs, but also to attract promising students. Enrollment in college horticulture and landscape programs has been on the decline, and at the same time, landscape industry companies continue to struggle to hire enough well-educated employees. Over the past year, the PLANET AEF Board of Directors has undergone a strategic planning process that led, in April, to the adoption of a new mission, vision and strategic plan for the organization. “In order to fulfill its new mission, to attract, inspire, and support the education and advancement of landscape professionals who create and manage healthy green spaces for the benefit of society,” PLANET AEF will engage in research to better understand the employment needs of the landscape industry. It will also develop a program to raise awareness about the benefits of a professional career in the industry. Visit www.planetaef.org for more information.