I'm a 30 year old male and I started trying to grow orchids in high school. My mother and grandfather were avid gardeners so I suppose I inherited my green thumb from them. My first botanical interest as a kid was in carnivorous plants which were "neat" because they ate bugs, followed by cacti and succulents which were "neat" because of the wide variety of weird shapes, followed by bonsais which were "neat" because they were small trees, followed by orchids which were "neat" because they grow on trees.
So in my case, and as others have already mentioned, it was an "easy sell" to make the transition to orchids from other plants. But most youngsters, green thumbs or not, have some level of curiosity about the unusual...the "neat" factor so to speak. On those occasions when young family members visit, they are infinitely more curious about the plants growing on branches than they are about the ones growing in pots.
Practically speaking, the AOS could create large educational posters, brochures, etc. specifically designed with students in mind and send the material to the various orchid societies. The orchid societies could set up the educational materials along with orchid trees at local botanical gardens and schools.
On a slightly different tangent...to put it delicately, I've found the AOS to be a less than useful resource for orchid information. Which is surprising given that information dissemination is supposedly one of their top missions. On the off chance they should happen to read this... here are a couple suggestions..
First, they should digitize and make available their orchid magazine articles...starting with their most recent (which should already be digitized) and working their way back. The digitized collection should be searchable and I would have no problem paying a dollar or two to download a pdf document of an interesting article.
Second, they should embrace and endorse Orchids Wiki
or start their own wikipedia type website dedicated to orchids. The other day I read an interesting statistic
that the Encyclopedia Britannica website receives 21 million hits per month while Wikipedia receives nearly 4 billion hits per month.
The information dissemination model of the AOS is obsolete and they should take cues from websites such as orchidculture.com
to become more relevant in our "information on demand" society.