Student floral designers get a boost from MUBG

Supporting student horticultural endeavors is part of Mizzou Botanic Garden’s (MUBG) mission. Providing support for two student floral design programs — one at Columbia Area Career Center (CACC) and the other in MU’s Division Plant Sciences — reinforces student engagement and also encourages students to pursue careers in horticultural fields.

Columbia Public Schools Partners in Education

Students taking the initial Floral and Plant Design class offered through CACC also learn about business practices. After completing the first course, students may concentrate on a Floral Design Strand as part of an advanced horticulture course in which they also learn advanced business and marketing skills.

Sherie Rodekohr, instructor with Columbia Public Schools for nearly 30 years, teaches the classes. She said secondary students from all three of Columbia’s high schools take floral courses as a practical arts requirement or an elective.

Floral and Plant Design students make floral arrangements in a variety of design styles: fresh and artificial holiday designs, vase designs for Valentine’s Day, corsages and boutonnieres for prom, and everyday designs used throughout the year. Basic business practice instruction culminates in plant sales for major holidays, all planned, prepared and run by the students.

Advanced students in the Floral Design Strand learn business, entrepreneurial and marketing skills, in addition to advanced design. They also participate in both Art in Bloom and the MU Chancellor’s Art Showcase. The former is an event sponsored by the Museum of Art and Archaeology for which Mid-Missouri florists design and create fresh-cut floral arrangements inspired by the artwork and artifacts found throughout the museum's collection.

“For Art in Bloom, advanced students research their projects, plan them, come up with a list of materials and then come up with the design,” Rodekohr said.

The program pays for materials and MUBG is a sponsor of the event.

“I feel like they’ve got the basics of planning and design and then these events give them the experience of getting something completed just like they do in flower shops,” Rodekohr said.

“I have several students who’ve gone on to MU and others that have been working in flower shops since they left school. There are a lot of them out there working in jobs initiated by their work in these classes.”

MU Division of Plant Science Floral Design

Five floral design courses are offered through MU’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Additionally, students with a floral design emphasis can receive firsthand business experience through Tiger Garden, MU’s full-service floral shop, and also have the opportunity to develop floral designs for competition at a national level.

Chancellor Showcase

A student floral design entry into the 2019 MU Chancellor’s Showcase.

Lesleighan Cravens, BS MS AgE, MU’s floral design instructor, oversees Tiger Garden and serves as advisor to students in Mizzou’s student chapter of the American Institute of Floral Designers (SAIFD).

Cravens said MU students participate in Art In Bloom and the MU Chancellor’s Showcase, activities that earn them points in the SAIFD club.

“There are 15 student chapters of SAIFD in the U.S. and Canada,” Cravens said. “In addition to other activities, students compete at the institute’s national symposium. A lot of students participate in the club.”

Mizzou’s successful student designers placed second overall at the 2019 symposium with individual students placing third in the sympathy design category, third in wedding design and first in interpretive design. MUBG makes a contribution toward student participation in the annual event. The 2020 AIFD Symposium is scheduled for July 2-7.

“We like it that we’re exposing such a large number of students to floral design and are proud to initiate so many to the floral design world,” Cravens said.


Story by Jan Wiese-Fales