A Budding Campus Competition

Competitive Flower Arranging is a Way for Students to Test Their Skills, Have Fun

Teresa Brooks (left) and Mary LeykampTeresa Brooks (left) and Mary Leykamp make final adjustments to their award-winning entry.

On the MU campus you can find students competing in a variety of efforts, football, basketball and even Lacrosse. Add competitive flower design to the list.

For the second year, students in Mary Ann Gowdy’s floral design class at the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources have ended their eight-week course by numbering-off into four-person teams to create the most attractive arrangement based on flowers, vases and accruements provided by Gowdy. Their final product goes on display on front of the Dean’s office in the Agriculture Building where faculty, staff, students and passers-by can vote on their favorite arrangement.

“Right now, creating the most popular design doesn’t even get the winners a t-shirt, although prizes may be part of the event next year,” Gowdy said. “The students can photograph their creations to include in their portfolios. As the materials selected are typical of those used in a large event like a banquet, these photos can help students intending a floral career to land a first job.”

FlowersFor other students, who can range from journalism to agricultural education majors, the event is the crowning moment of a fun class that explores composition, texture and style. The competition is a practical way to take the skills and training that they receive in class and blend them with their own vision of art. Last year, one team used the concept of rising smoke to design their arrangement.

Because of the infinite nature of potential arrangements, there is not a lot of industrial espionage between the teams during the competition. Teams are more likely to help each other rather than scope out and steal a clever idea. Gowdy said team members do intently plan and execute their design, citing what they have learned in class to justify one option over another.

To a person, each team member is intensely proud of the final result and is convinced of the inevitability that their design will win — as it should be at the competitive collegiate level.