Jacksonville FFA growing skills

Marrion Ore, staff writer

The Jacksonville FFA members have been preparing for this moment for months. We have prepared since February, working hard to be ready for the long haul. We’ve watered and scooped and sprayed and ordered all for this one reason: to fill the greenhouse. The Plant Science class and Greenhouse Management and Floral Design class received the shipments of plugs through the mail last week. Since then, every day, we work hard to plant the various annuals: petunias, marigolds, impatiens, snapdragons, begonias, portulaca, vinca-cora and much more. Besides flowers, the FFA is growing tomatoes and sweet peppers. Everybody in the classroom gets a chance to try a new job each day; Whether students are watering, filling plants with growing medium, planting and labeling the cell packs, or transporting flats from the ag shop to the greenhouse, students are listening to music and having a good time.

What are the best parts? Mandy Jackson, the chapter president, says, “One of the best parts of the entire process is to see the members’ reactions when they see our plant cuttings grow roots. It’s awesome to see the stems sprout tiny white roots and many people don’t even know that it’s possible – that’s probably the most awesome. Seeing students who don’t know much about running a greenhouse or don’t really care and then watching the light bulb turn on and suddenly they have tons of ideas for next years’ fundraisers. They’re spending time out of school. They’re volunteering to do the hard manual labor because they love to watch the magic behind it. That’s what the best part is.” When asked what has changed with the fundraiser through past years, Mandy replied, “I’m excited to start plants from seeds. We have not germinated seeds before because we could not make the right conditions. This year we have a germinating chamber and another agriculture teacher, Mr. Mansholt, who has a lot of experience in the plant-growing industry who has already been a huge help this year.”

So, whether or not you’re into greenhouse, feel free to come to a Greenhouse Open House or grab an order form. Your family or that special someone will be touched by the sweet gesture, and it doesn’t hurt to be amazed by the science behind it along the way. 🙂