Woodland High School students learn Horticulture Science culminating in an annual plant sale open to the community

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Students in Mary Ellen Vetter's Horticulture Science classes at Woodland High School learn how to organically grow plants in mass quantities culminating in this year's 28th Annual Plant Sale scheduled for Friday, May 6 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, May 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Students in Mary Ellen Vetter's Horticulture Science classes learn all aspects of growing plants from plant science to retail sales.
Students in Mary Ellen Vetter's Horticulture Science classes learn all aspects of growing plants from plant science to retail sales.

Vetter teaches Floriculture and Horticulture Classes at Woodland High School, teaching for 36 years with 27 of those years at in Woodland, beginning in 1985. "I particularly enjoy the times when students take what they learn in class and apply it to their lives afterward," said Vetter. "I have students who run their own shops and others who work for agriculture companies as well as many students who use the skills they've developed just for personal use."

Students begin by learning the process of how to grow the plants themselves. Plant science includes learning about the germination of seeds, proper watering techniques, and pest control. In addition, Vetter ensures the students receive the full education of the plant industry. Vetter designs the curriculum for her classes around industry standards while aligning them with state science requirements including common core. All classes are then approved by OSPI. "After they grow their plants, students study marketing techniques, communication skills, and retail sales including pricing, budgeting, and inventory," explained Vetter. "Interest in Horticulture and growing plants organically has been increasing in recent years thanks to an interest in healthy eating and people growing their own vegetable gardens at home."

Students learn proper watering techniques and don't use pesticides to ensure each plant receives the nutrients and water it needs to grow organically.
Students learn proper watering techniques and don't use pesticides to ensure each plant receives the nutrients and water it needs to grow organically. 

Students in Vetter's classes don't use pesticides to grow their plants. "This year, the only pest we experienced was a small aphid infestation," said Vetter. "In order to remove the pests, students wash the plants manually using a combination of a special soap and water to ensure the plants are clean and free of pests without using possibly harmful chemicals."

Students enroll in Vetter's classes for a variety of reasons. "I took a future-trades class in middle school with Ms. Vetter, so when I enrolled in Horticulture Science to learn more from her," said McKayla Shippen, a Freshman. "Growing plants from seeds requires a lot of responsibility because you need to keep working throughout the process to ensure the plant's survival."

Brennan Lamoreaux (left), Pavel Nyukeyev (center), and Mary Ellen Vetter (right), get hands-on with their plants.
Brennan Lamoreaux (left), Pavel Nyukeyev (center), and Mary Ellen Vetter (right), get hands-on with their plants.

Pavel Nyukeyev, a sophomore, agreed with Shippen. "Learning and about plant growth and their development through different stages is fascinating," he said. "In addition, Ms. Vetter is a great teacher; she's excellent at explaining things and her teaching style is a lot of fun." Nyukeyev's classmate, Brennan Lamoreaux, also a sophomore, took the class after growing plants at home. "Having grown plants before makes the class a lot of fun," said Lamoreaux. "Learning specific watering techniques is really interesting; we spend a lot of time learning exactly how to water properly, and I wasn't expecting how complicated it can be to get it right."

The 28th Annual Plant Sale includes 30 varieties of tomatoes, 15 varieties of peppers, flowers, hanging baskets, and much, much more.
The 28th Annual Plant Sale includes 30 varieties of tomatoes, 15 varieties of peppers, flowers, hanging baskets, and much, much more. 

This year's 28th Annual Plant Sale features more than 30 varieties of tomatoes, more than 1,300 in total; 15 varieties of peppers; and a wide selection of vegetables and flowers including squash, zucchini, pumpkins, broccoli, kale, petunias, marigolds, and many more. This year's sale will also include plants grown by Woodland Middle School Hands-On Science Classes taught by Sharlene Brown who worked in coordination with Vetter. "Each year, the students select the plants they grow throughout the class," said Vetter. "Our students are incredibly proud of their work, and we hope the community will come to the plant sale to learn or continue to enjoy gardening as much as we do."

The Plant Sale will be held on Friday, May 6 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, May 7 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Woodland High School located at 1500 Dike Access Road, Woodland, WA 98674 and is open to all members of the community. Funds raised from the sale support the FFA program, and are also used to pay for the next year's plant sale and activities.