MUSCATINE, Iowa–As flowers and other outdoor plants blossom into their summer finery, students on the Muscatine FFA floriculture, nursery and landscaping and junior high school horse teams flourished These teams earned reserve state championships at their career development events held June 14. Students on the high school horse team and agriculture mechanics teams had good outings as well, earning third and 13th places at their respective state competitions.
In floriculture, student Haley Thomas explained that teams must show their knowledge through a test covering floral production, general knowledge, plant identification, and problem solving. Then, students get hands on, each making a corsage by themselves and working together to create four different floral arrangements.
An event that encourages creativity, Danika Garrett believes it offers a pleasant way for students to get into FFA competition. “Floral is a very fun relaxed competition; your team gets to choose what you all wear, there’s life skills, and you get to make floral armaments,” she explained.
Students also found the event enjoyable because it allowed them to put the skills some of them had learned in horticulture classes to good use. “I took Mr. Tometich’s Horticulture One class my freshman year, which sparked a love for horticulture,” added McKenna Kopf.
According to Isabella Zigament, the nursery and landscaping contest also consisted of both team and individual components but focused more on how to arrange plants to make a pleasing outdoor space and how to maintain them properly. As a team, students explained how to use safety equipment correctly and how to use line trimmers and power blowers effectively. They also worked to bring a sketch of a landscape to life by figuring out its scale and arranging real plants accordingly. Individually, students provided a landscape estimate and completed a general knowledge test.
A challenging competition, Camden Furnas considered it a good contest for anyone who has taken a forestry class. As he put it, “I had a forestry and wildlife class, so that was a big chunk of knowledge already.”
In the horse competition at all levels, students completed a general knowledge test and tack identification quiz, ranked horses in different classes, and justified their rankings. Leah Cortez, who done the horse contest for five years, shared that while ranking the horses can prove challenging, having to justify your choices builds confidence and communications skills. She detailed, “it’s a great learning experience and a really good way to practice your public speaking skills once you’re in high school and give reasons.”
This June, the agriculture mechanics team traveled to Ames to compete in both the test and applied parts of this contest, which covers welding, electricity, construction, surveying, and small engines. Griffin Trego, who participated in the contest for the second time this year, feels the event provides great preparation for anyone who would like to work with agricultural technology or equipment as a career. “I will be going to Iowa State in Ag Systems and Technology so the contest really fits what I plan to do in college,” he detailed.