Woodland High School’s floral design teams win FloraChopped, bringing home $4,800 in scholarships

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Woodland High School’s Floral Design teams swept the Floral Design Institute’s FloraChopped competition held in Portland, Oregon with the school’s teams taking first and second place, winning $4,800 in scholarships.

Woodland High School's two floral design teams swept first and second place at the Floral Design Institute's "Florachopped" competition.
Woodland High School's two floral design teams swept first and second place at the Floral Design Institute's "Florachopped" competition.

The Floral Design Institute organized and held the FloraChopped competition at Frank Adams Wholesale Florist in Portland on Friday, September 29, 2017. Six high school teams from Southwest Washington high schools with three students apiece competed for more than $6,000 in scholarship awards. Woodland High School’s two teams made it to the final round and competed against each other for first and second place with team members: Kylee Jones (junior), Jacob Laddusaw (senior), Jennifer Parkhill (senior), Glorianna Raney (senior), Samantha Ripp (junior) and Vanessa Sills (senior).

For each round, each individual team member had to complete a project with preset supplies within a 30-minute time limit.
For each round, each individual team member had to complete a project with preset supplies within a 30-minute time limit.

Inspired by the Food Network cooking show “Chopped,” the FloraChopped competition featured three rounds with teams getting eliminated or “chopped” after each round. For each 30-minute round, individual members of each team were assigned specific projects using supplies kept hidden until the round began. For example, team members in the first round created a football, a corsage, and a crown, all using floral design techniques and supplies.

The Floral Design Institute brought in famous designers from around the country to judge each round, and to provide the teams with valuable feedback during critiques as judges pointed out where teams succeeded and where they could improve. At the end of the competition, the Institute awarded more than $6,000 in scholarships with Woodland’s teams and team members bringing home a total of $4,800.

Time management is an incredibly important skill for students to master for class, competitions, and jobs after high school.
Time management is an incredibly important skill for students to master for class, competitions, and jobs after high school.

Woodland’s students take floral design and horticulture courses for a variety of reasons. “I greatly enjoy classes involving visual art, and I really like working with flowers,” said Kylee Jones, a junior who helped her team win second place and received a $500 scholarship herself. “This year, I’m taking the advanced class, working in the school’s shop where I’ve been learning time management by taking orders and ensuring they’re completed on time.”

Jennifer Parkhill, a senior from the winning Woodland team, started taking classes just this year after watching her mom garden at home. “The biggest surprise for me is that floral design is not as hard as it looks once you understand the design principles and techniques involved,” she said. “Time management is definitely the biggest challenge; we have to figure out what supplies must be prepared in advance in order to make sure we can finish the arrangements.”

Mary Ellen Vetter has taught horticulture and floral design courses for Woodland High School since 1985, offering students a variety of skills and experiences to prepare for life after high school. “The hands-on elements and job skills students learn in these classes along with teamwork experience helps prepare students for job placement of all kinds, not just careers in the floral industry, as these skills are used in every industry,” she explained. “In addition, the job opportunities in the floral industry include careers in floral shops, growing, wholesale operations, research, and so much more.”

Students start by learning the process of how to grow the plants themselves. Plant science includes lessons about the germination of seeds, proper watering techniques, and pest control. In addition, Vetter ensures students receive experience with every aspect of the floral 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 growing their plants, students study marketing techniques, communication skills, and retail sales including pricing, budgeting, and inventory, all by working in our own school store," said Vetter. "Interest in horticulture, floral design, and organic growing has been increasing in recent years thanks to healthy eating and people growing their own vegetable gardens at home."


Kylee Jones, junior (left), Mary Ellen Vetter, teacher (center), and Jennifer Parkhill, senior (right), appreciate the variety of hands-on skills floral design offers that are applicable to employment in virtually any job industry.
Kylee Jones, junior (left), Mary Ellen Vetter, teacher (center), and Jennifer Parkhill, senior (right), appreciate the variety of hands-on skills floral design offers that are applicable to employment in virtually any job industry.

Over the years, technology has also become a more significant element in Vetter’s classes. “Many commercial greenhouses are nearly completely automated using computers and other forms of technology to help produce more robust harvests,” she explained. “The exposure students receive to technology at a high school level will help prepare them for careers in all fields and industries following graduation.”

Vetter seeks out opportunities like Florachopped for her students to apply their classroom knowledge to the real world. "I greatly enjoy watching students take what they learn in class and applying it to their lives outside of school potentially leading to life-long change," she explained. " I have past students who now run their own shops, others who work for agriculture companies, and many who simply use the skills they've learned in class to maintain their own gardens at home."

Woodland High School will host a major floral design competition on November 4 with teams from schools all around Washington State in attendance. “More than 100 students will compete right here at Woodland High School,” said Vetter. “We invite the Woodland community to attend the competition and watch these amazing students design and compete!” Any interested community member can attend the Saturday, November 4, 2017 competition which will be held at Woodland High School located at 1500 Dike Access Road in Woodland, WA 98674 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Floral Design Institute, located in Portland, Oregon and founded in 1969, is recognized as one of the leading floral design schools in the world by helping students become Certified Floral Designers. You can find more information from their website at www.floraldesigninstitute.com.

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