By JENNIFER RAWLINGS, Contributor
The Vandegrift FFA floriculture team competed at nationals, Oct. 29 – Nov. 2 in Indianapolis and came home with the silver award. Two of the students who went to nationals last year in vet sciences went this year in floriculture, and three of the four team members come back from college to compete.
Camille Barkhuizen, a freshman at Texas State, and Madeleine Rawlings, a senior at VHS, both competed at state last year. The team was complete with Tori Botello, a freshman at A&M Galveston, and Noel Attwood, a freshman at A&M in College Station.
Earlier this year, the Viper FFA floriculture team placed first out of over 1,400 teams at the state level championship and that qualified them for the National FFA Convention.
The team spent many hours each week prior to the state championship and continued over the summer to hone their skills. Preparation included a mix of taking practice multiple choice exams and practicums, and hands on experience for plant identification by visiting local nurseries.
At nationals, 45 states competed in the floriculture competition, each state had their top winners.
FFA adviser Magan Escamilla said the competition included activities such as a job application and interview, creating floral arrangements, identifying plants and equipment used in industry, doing a team activity where they worked together to create a display or fulfill floral orders and creating and/or evaluating media used to promote floriculture and horticulture.
Vandegrift represented Texas and came in 20th with the silver award.
“Placing was exciting and I’m thrilled for our team,” Camille Barkhuizen said.
“Gold, Silver and Bronze levels are awarded. A lot goes into competing and we were very happy with the team’s performance,” Escamilla said.
“I never dreamed I would qualify for nationals once, let alone twice in back to back years,” Escamilla said. “To say I’m proud of these kids is an understatement. We work hard and it pays off.”