April 25, 1997
Foral Team Best in Nation....Again
The UW-River Falls floral crop evaluation team successfully defended its title as best in the nation, recently winning the 56th Annual National Intercollegiate Floral Crop Quality Evaluation and Design Competition at Oklahoma State University, April 3 and 4.
The UW-RF students competed against 11 teams from universities across the U.S. The win was the third national title for UW-RF in the past five years.
Students evaluated the quality characteristics of over 50 types of cut flowers, flowering potted plants, and foliage plants during the evaluation competition. Most of the potted plants were obtained from growers in the southern U.S. The cut flowers, including roses, carnations, exotics such as heliconia and ginger, and specialty cuts such as Tweedia and Watsonia, were obtained from numerous sources throughout the world.
The UW-River Falls Horticulture students earned the First Place Team Award in the overall evaluation competition, followed by Kansas State University and the University of Illinois. UW-RF team members were Amy Neigebauer of Owatonna, Minn., Amber Morrow and Shayne Johnson of River Falls, and Paula Christ of Afton, Minn.
Neigebauer earned First Place High individual Overall and First Place Individual in Cut Flower Evaluation. Morrow placed fifth in the Individual Overall and fourth in the Cut Flower Evaluation.
Jenny Pieper of Cochrane, Wis., and Willie Helpingstine of River Falls were members of last year's winning team and served as assistant coaches this year. "They were able to share their expertise and knowledge with other students and played a key role in the success of the team", said horticulture Professor Terry Ferriss, who has coached the team since 1979.
Eighteen students trained and competed at the local level for a spot on the team. The training process teaches students to understand production techniques and post-harvest handling procedures that will ensure availability of high quality floral products in the industry. Students also learn to critically examine plants as well as recognize and minimize characteristics that indicate damage from insects, diseases, improper handling, cultural imperfection, and over-maturity.
In addition to the evaluation contest, a floral design contest was held with awards given to individuals. Students representing UW-RF included Marcia Sell, McFarland, Sarah Beckman of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., Troy Larsen, Eureka, and Helpingstine. Sell captured second place in the Round Center Piece design category and Beckman placed fourth in the One-sided Asymmetrical Design category.
"The National Competition also provides students an excellent opportunity to interact and establish contacts with industry professionals as well as faculty and students from many of the nation's top schools of horticulture. Just visiting another region within the U.S. is often a valuable cultural experience for students."
When the students were not competing at the event, they toured the Oklahoma Botanical Garden and Arboretum, Research Greenhouses, the Crystal Bridge Conservatory and Myriad Gardens, and the American Floral Services, Inc. The floral competition event was co-sponsored by Pi Alpha Xi, the National Honor Society for Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture, Paul Ecke Poinsettias, Inc., and the American Floral Endowment. PAX and AFE support academic achievement, education and research activities of the floriculture industry.