David City is currently home to one of the best floriculture teams in the country - good enough to be one of 20 teams competing at the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis this month. The David City four-member floriculture team - part of a local chapter of the National FFA Organization - has been working toward the national competition on October 27th since before January.
"The FFA is a school organization. It's an extra-curricular within agricultural education," Catherine Chmelka said. Chmelka is the floriculture team's advisor and an animal, vet, and plant science teacher at David City Public Schools. She also owns and runs the local flower shop 402 Floral in David City. "Of the students who are competing, one is a junior, one is a senior, and two are college freshman," Chmelka said.
Payton Andel is one of those two college freshmen, both of whom were on the team when it qualified for nationals near the end of the 2020-2021 school year. Andel now studies exercise science at Wayne State College. She lives in Wayne, but on most weekends she travels 80 minutes to David City to work at 402 Floral and prepare for the national competition.
"You don't get to be one of the best in the country without hard work and dedication, after all, and there's a lot of ground to cover when it comes to floriculture."
"One of the facets is a general knowledge exam, and that could be anything from growing the plants to greenhouse management and maintenance to overall floral design concepts, history of floral design, and current trends/challenges within the floral industry," Chmelka said.
Meanwhile, the identification portions cover more than 200 components, including various plants, pieces of equipment, and insects, pests, and diseases. Students design and create flower arrangements as part of the hands-on contest component and, in another portion, demonstrate one of three propagation methods. The final part of the competition tests their sales and communication skills.
"The judge will act as if they are a customer coming into a shop and making an order for a flower arrangement," Chmelka said.
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