RADFORD – Sunlight streams through the cozy greenhouse at Radford High School as student bend over tiny plants, giving them the care they need to grow.
From succulents to flowers, personalized herb gardens and more, the 20 students of Katie Givens’ horticulture and floraculture classes seem to love their work, and their teacher. Givens has an easy, approachable way about her. She moves from student to student, looking over the work of each and offering words of encouragement. Her students say Givens is one of the many reasons they love her class and the feeling is mutual.
“These are good kids,” Givens said Thursday in the RHS greenhouse. “They work hard and they like what they do.”
Third-year students Kyra Kiser and Sadie Wallace, who are both seniors at the high school, said Givens’ classes are their favorites in school.
“I like working with the plants, watching them go from baby plants and growing,” said Kiser. “This is my only class that is interactive like this.”
Wallace agrees. “It’s great because you aren’t sitting in a classroom,” said Wallace. “It’s hands on.”
“And I love Ms. Givens,” she added with a smile.
Much of the work the students do all school year leads up to a greenhouse sale at the end of the year, during which they sell the fruits of their labor. Potted flowers, herbs and vegetable plants are sold, making their way into gardens throughout the city. The plants are in high demand in the community, selling quickly on a first-come, first-served basis.
But that is only one of several projects the kids work on during the school year. Givens explains that they hold a big cut-flower sale on Valentine’s Day each year, selling flower arrangements and single flowers to students and staff to give as Valentines’ gifts. They also make a flower arrangement for each school board member during that time, much to the board members’ delight each year. The students also go out into the community to assist with landscaping projects on a volunteer basis. And this year, Givens said, she and her students are providing floral arrangement services for a wedding.
“Yep, we are doing a wedding in June,” Givens said. “It’s really exciting for the students.”
They also provide corsages and boutonnieres at prom time.
In addition to the horticulture and floraculture class that Givens teaches on the high school level, she also teaches an agricultural science class for Dalton Intermediate School students and a small-animal care class at the high school. Givens said in today’s world, she feels it is important to offer students these types of classes.
“I feel agriculture and horticulture is so important for our youth today because it is showing them where their food comes from,” Givens said. “Agriculture is in every aspect of our lives; from the food we eat, the clothes we wear, fields we play sports on, to the pets we have.”
“Without this industry we would have nothing,” she continued. “I also feel that agriculture/horticulture has so many jobs available within the field and many students have no idea of the possibilities. By them taking an agriculture class, they learn what is out there. They may also learn that they really enjoy something that they never even thought existed; like running a greenhouse or being an veterinary assistant.”
The annual greenhouse sale occurs each spring. More information will be released as the sale gets closer.