Purpose. Though an academic honor society, Pi Alpha Xi is more than a society. The organization was originally established to unify students, educators, and professional horticulturists. The society promotes high scholarship, fellowship, professional leadership, and the enrichment of human life through plants
History. The idea of an honor floriculture and ornamental horticulture society came from an impromptu after-dinner discussion among representatives of several universities attending the International Flower Show held in New York City in 1923. A group of individuals from Cornell University lead by the late Arno Nehrling, developed the organization, wrote the first constitution and ritua,l and designed the insignia or key. The formal installation of the Alpha Chapter was at Cornell University on June 1, 1923. Today the society has grown to 35 chapters and over 10,000 members. These chapters are located in the United States at four-year institutions with programs in Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture. The Virginia Tech Kappa Chapter of Pi Alpha Xi was established in 1945, as the sixth chapter in the U.S.
Membership. As an honor society, not everyone is eligible to join. Only the top students in the junior and senior classes with a demonstrated interest in floriculture, landscape horticulture, and /or ornamental horticulture are invited to join. Graduate students and faculty with an emphasis in these fields are also eligible. Students must have an academic average of at least a "B" (3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 system) in their major and at least a 2.75 grade point average overall. Candidates should give promise of continued activity and interest in the field. Eligible underclassmen are also welcome to participate in PAX activities in preparation for joining the organization as juniors. We have a PAX banquet every spring, to welcome new initiates.
Service projects and fund raising. Our sole fund-raiser is the fall Bulb Sale, featuring top-quality, spring-blooming bulbs suitable for planting in Virginia. We feature the Hokie Blend of tulips - big blooms of orange and plum, available only during homecoming weekend. Profits from this sale as well as member's labor go toward improving the landscape on campus - specifically, the PAX bed in front of Squires, and the Saunders Hall surrounds. Funds also go toward scholarships for deserving individuals as voted on and awarded by the executive committee.