May 15, 1996
Floral Team Tops in Nation
By Justin Hancock
UW-RF News Bureau
The UW-River Falls Floral Crop Evaluation team gained top honors at the 55th annual National Intercollegiate Floral Crop Quality Evaluation Contest by placing first overall in the team and individual categories.
The contest was held April 12-13 at Utah State University, Logan, Utah. Other schools competing included the University of Illinois, the University of Kentucky, Pennsylvania State University and Texas A&M University.
At the contest, students evaluated the quality of cut flowers, flowering potted plants and foliage plants by identifying imperfections on the specimens including cultural imperfections; damage from handling, insects and disease; and overmaturity. The skills used by these students are important in all aspects of floriculture and ornamental horticulture industries.
The UW-RF team members showed they were masters of these skills. Led by head Coach Terry Ferriss and assistant coaches Judy Tostrud, Sheila Drier and Bobbie Wright, the three-person judging team placed first in the overall team competition, followed by South Dakota State University and California Polytechnic State University.
Individually, all competing UW-RF students showed excellence. Jenny Pieper, Cochrane, secured first place finishes in the overall evaluation and potted plant categories. Second place overall was claimed by SDSU's Heather Kooima, whose coach, David Graper, is a UW-RF graduate. UW-RF student Konnie Jerabek, New Richmond, placed third overall. She was also the champion in the individual cut flower category. UW-RF student Willie Helpingstine, River Falls, placed fourth overall and second in the potted plants category.
In addition to competing, the students also toured Utah State's facilities that produce genetically engineered wheat developed there to be grown as a food source on space stations. Students also visited the University's Space Dynamics Laboratory, looked in on some state-of-the-art commercial greenhouses and had the opportunity to speak with the head landscape designer of Salt Lake City's Temple Square spring bulb display.
The UW-RF Floral Crop Evaluation team is made up of 18 members, including Susan Mandelin, Wisconsin Rapids, who attended the competition as an alternate.
In addition to team fundraising, funding was provided by the UW-RF College of Agriculture, the Student Senate, Roland and Jeannette Mandelin, Brian Schroeder, Samuel Campbell, Lauren Klement, Randy Allamand, Len Busch Roses and Schroeder's Flowers. The Bachmann's Co. also provided the team with practice areas for potted plants.