Floriculture class gives students more than experience in pretty flower arrangements

The high school Ag program isn’t just about raising livestock.
Pre-pandemic a floriculter student adds the finishing touches to her sunflower arrangement. After class the students delivered the flowers to Winters High School staff and teachers. Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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There is more to the Winters High School agricultural program than raising animals. Under the guidance and leadership of Donnie Whitworth and Kayla Roberts the WHS agricultural program has turned into an opportunity for students to get a look at a variety of pathways leading to an agricultural related career. The WHS floriculture class serves as one of those pathways. The WHS course catalog details that students will study flower and plant identification, the use of color, tools, and materials used in a florist shop. However, Roberts says the class is more than just flowers and gives students business experience. The class is comprised of both beginning students and advanced students who have previously taken floriculture. Besides learning the basics of creating flower arrangements and techniques of handling flowers and greenery, the class is treated as a functioning floral shop. Throughout the year students get first-hand experience in creating floral arrangements for weddings, baby showers, banquets, funerals and other events. Roberts is able to teach skills to beginner students while keeping advanced students engaged in creating community orders. As role models the advanced students also begin to help teach beginner students through their experience with putting together the arrangements. She said not only does she teach traditional arrangement ideas like the classic dozen roses, she also keeps up on current trends in the floral industry so that they can not only create, but to be aware of what is hot in floral right now. Students also are challenged to explore projects online so they can get an idea of what possible, modern trends are out there. “It’s my objective to teach students skills so they can immediately get hired and complete designs that are on trend for right now,” said Roberts. Besides learning how to create, floriculture students also learn about business marketing and how to build a business. Roberts said one of their assignments is to create their own floral shop by the end of the year. She teaches them how to calculate labor costs, markup on materials, how to market their products in today’s society and how to pitch their floral business to try and attract investors. Roberts said she also teaches them how to prioritize multiple tasks in a small time frame, and from the experience students also learn how to be most efficient with their time. “One of the greatest things is teaching about the business side, money side and how to create a business model,” said Roberts. “This is physical work. They have to learn how to be efficient in their work. If you teach them those skills they can apply it to other aspects of their life.” Floriculture experience leads to other careers involving creativity besides owning a floral shop. Roberts said florists need to wear multiple hats and learning about colors and floral designs can lead to careers in the wedding industry, event planning industry, hospitality and interior design. “If you have these little skills in the event industry it makes you more successful,” said Roberts. “It’s quite a skill that can take you many places. It’s also a fun hobby.” Roberts said the floriculture class brings together a variety of students, including students in the life skills program, when they normally might not share other classes. She compared it to a family who sometimes argue, but always help each other out. “There’s a big sense of pride that comes with this class that is really great,” said Roberts. “They come here and create something beautiful and they share it. They’re creating a quality product that we’re getting money for.” Floral arrangement subscriptions help to fund the floral class program. Roberts said while there is grant money available, she cannot use it on items like cut flowers that will wilt in a few weeks. The arrangement subscriptions also bring a regular opportunity for students to work with flowers and get more hands-on experience. Plus, leftovers can be used for other arrangements, so it helps to eliminate waste. The floral arrangement subscription starts at $130 for a monthly arrangement from September through May.  Arrangements are available for pick-up at the WHS Ag Site (401 Niemann St.) during school hours. Starting at $160 the monthly flower arrangement will be delivered to subscribers doorsteps who live within Winters city limits. Those interested in purchasing a subscription or who have questions can contact Roberts at kroberts@wintersjusd.org. Roberts said the floriculture class receives order requests from the community all the time and hopes to be able to expand the program in the future. She has a goal to create a possible working farm store where students can sell their creations, similar to an art gallery.]]>

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