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April 20, 2001

UW-RF Students Win at National Floral Evaluation

UW-River Falls students made an impressive showing with several placements and wins and an overall team rating of second place at the 60th National Intercollegiate Floral Crop Quality Evaluation Contest, held April 4-6 at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

A group of 12 students attended the event, accompanied by Terry Ferriss, plant and earth science professor in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at UW-RF. For the competition, students judged and evaluated plant material that would be sold commercially, including cut flowers, flowering potted plants and foliage plants

"Students are taught the importance of quality in the production of plants, in post-harvest and in retail," Ferriss said. "They must be able to identify plants of quality, and if there is a problem, to determine where along the line the problem began. That is what floral evaluation is."

The four UW-RF students who participated in judging and evaluation included Jessie Bruss, a sophomore from Green Bay majoring in horticulture; Becky Mathison, a senior from Woodville majoring in agricultural education; Melanie Welles, a junior from Ixonia majoring in horticulture; and Michelle Stay, a sophomore from Foley, Minn., majoring in horticulture, who was an alternate.

Bruss placed third in judging and evaluation of potted plants, second in cut flowers and first overall. Welles placed first in judging and evaluation of cut flowers.

Three other team members participated in the design competition, including Kimberly Bode, a sophomore from Fairbault, Minn., majoring in horticulture; Carrie Rupnow, a senior from Monore majoring in horticulture; and Nick Folk, a sophomore from Fort Atkinson majoring in horticulture. Bode was first-place winner in design.

Four other students participated in the trip, although they did not judge or design: Melanie Melander, a senior majoring in horticulture from Unity; Kari Neubauer, a senior from Menomonie majoring in broad area agriculture; Amanda Schwake, a senior from Maiden Rock majoring in horticulture; and Patricia Sobieck, a junior from Oneida majoring in horticulture. These four students represented River Falls as part of the planning committee for next year when UW-RF will host the contest.

Dan Heintz, a senior from River Falls who is majoring in horticulture, accompanied the group as an assistant to Ferris. Because Heintz was a competitorlast year, he was not able to compete this year.

The UW-RF team finished second in the national competition overall, behind Pennsylvania State University. Ferris attributes much of the teamıs success to the extra coaching it receives, and to advance preparation.

"The students trained hard for this," Ferriss said. "They practiced every Thursday for three hours during February and March, and some Saturdays. Then they competed with each other locally to earn a place on the team. Twenty three students tried out for the team, and the top 12 made it."

Ferriss said the trip provided an opportunity for our students to network with their peers from across the country, and to experience some of the horticulture in another part of the country. It also provided them with some new cultural and life experiences.

Between the judging events, the group had a chance to visit a seed company, a wholesaler of potted plant materials and some commercial greenhouses,and to see some sights in the San Francisco area , such as Hearst Castle, the Golden Gate Bridge and Fishermanıs Wharf.

The contest was sponsored by the American Floral Endowment, a national industry group, and Pi Alpha Xi, a national honor society.

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