FFA students at Windsor High School in Colorado are competing for a chance to compete in the 94th National FFA Convention & Expo in late October in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is an amazing experience for young people to get involved in the floral industry.
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Kaitlynn Stier never seriously considered FFA.The 17-year-old Windsor High School senior didn’t know FFA existed before starting high school, let alone have any understanding of the organization dedicated to supporting and promoting students’ interest in agricultural education.Stier never imagined she’d have a chance to compete in a national FFA event. But that’s where she finds herself, along with a Windsor High classmate and two recent graduates. Stier, Teagan Marsh, Emily Wilcox and Audrey Glynn will represent Windsor High and the agriculture department in an FFA floriculture team qualifying event next week.
Depending on their score in the virtual testing Monday and Tuesday, they could earn the right to participate in the 94th National FFA Convention & Expo in late October in Indianapolis, Indiana.Melinda Spaur, a Windsor High agriculture education teacher and FFA advisor, said the young women are more than ready for the qualifying rounds and the national conference. They’ve learned what they need to know in classes, and they should expect to compete in Indianapolis.The students are also learning from Shannon Baylie, Spaur’s agriculture education colleague who also serves as an FFA advisor.“I think I’m pretty confident,” said Stier, a Greeley resident. “I still have a couple of things I want to work on. I’m kind of nervous. I think we’ll do good.”
Marsh, from Fort Collins, is also a 17-year-old rising Windsor High senior. Wilcox and Glynn are from Eaton and Severance, respectively and both graduated from Windsor earlier this year.“The majority of stuff we learned in floriculture class is what we’ll be tested on,” said Glynn, who an office with the Windsor FFA chapter last year. She was a late addition to the floriculture team after missing out on a chance to reach the national competition in another discipline.
In qualifying, Stier, Marsh, Wilcox and Glynn will take an online test during which they’ll be required to demonstrate knowledge of a variety of skills such as identifying plants and diseases. The top 50% of the teams will go on to Indianapolis, Spaur said.Floriculture is a discipline or a branch of horticulture. Horticulture includes garden crops, such as fruits, vegetables and ornamental plants. Floriculture focuses on growing and marketing flowers and ornamental plants, such bushes and shrubs. Floriculture also includes flower arrangement.“It’s how plants are grown, how they’re produced and insect control,” Spaur explained.
Spaur said floriculture also has a business component because a student interested in professional work might own a greenhouse or floral shop someday.This is a career option Wilcox is considering. She plans to study horticulture and floriculture at Front Range Community College. She already has some experience working with one of her mother’s friends.Stier has dedicated time to studying floriculture and learning more outside of class, too. She recently designed the boutonnieres and corsages for her grandparents’ renewal of their wedding vows.“I was saying I’d do it (take an agriculture course) to get it over with,” Stier said. “I actually liked it.”Marsh’s primary future career interest is in nursing. She would like to keep her hand in floriculture on the side.“I’ve just loved flowers since I was little,” she said. “My mom and dad planted a ton of them.”Wilcox started out with Spaur’s agriculture classes at Windsor intending to be a veterinarian. Wilcox decided she had a greater interest in floriculture after working with Spaur, who was complimentary and encouraging with Wilcox’s flower arranging skills.“I felt good about myself,” Wilcox said. “I figured it was a hidden talent of mine.”