Beckville ISD’s FFA program has a secret garden.

Students are able to take floral design classes through the ag department.

“Generally, depending on how they line their ag classes, they can start out taking principles of floral design their first year, then they take advanced floral design their second year, and then their third and fourth year, because these young ladies are in their fourth year, they take what’s called practicum of floral design,” said teacher Amy Podlewski.

The two young ladies Podlewski mentioned are seniors Callista Sullivan and Ahriana Henderson, who lead the Floral Club and its business Buds and Bearcats. They also get help from junior Jacob Roberae.

“These young ladies came into what we call the floral practicum, and that is a third level class, and when they came in, we were still having the COVID outbreaks here, and so we tried to the previous year, would send them actually to floral shops like The Popcorn Place to do internships,” Podlewski said. “But because of the fear of COVID, a lot of the shops weren’t willing to take us, which we totally understand, we decided to — they started their own business, and so we started last year and this is our second year doing it, and we’re definitely still learning as we go.”

The two girls voiced their love for the program, for the creativity involved and the freedom they get being able to create their own projects.

“These are both very creative students, and they have a very artistic mindset,” Podlewski said. “Ahriana’s a wonderful drawer... They take their artistic side and put it into hands on learning, and they have both down an excellent job. She’s our bow queen (Callista). She’s our artist (Ahriana). So they work really well together.”

The two are interested in making floristry into a career.

“I want to go to A&M and get a business degree, and they have a floral school up there that I want to take classes at,” Callista said.

This program will help them do that. Podlewski says she’s had several students in the program who have found they really enjoy the field.

“These two young ladies are probably my big ones when it comes to potentially being their future careers, in floral design,” she said. “They can leave this program as a level one and/or level two florist. So they’ll have their certifications through the Texas Floral Association, and then so both of these young ladies are level ones, and they would hope to get their level twos this year, and then I’ve had some kids go and compete at major stock shows, like Houston Stock Show and stuff, and that opens up some scholarships and stuff for them. For some of them it’s a hobby, and it’s a side job. For others it’s scholarship money and a career.”

The floral club sells a subscription for monthly arrangements for $25, but they also do arrangements for holidays and more. Right now they’re making and selling Homecoming Mums.

“Their monthly subscription allows for one live flower arrangement and faux flower arrangement, up to your choice,” Podlewski said. “So this month they chose, the girls came up with they wanted to do the glass blocks, so we hydra-dipped them, and they just went out into the shop and drilled the holes in them.

“Their other one is, it’s going to have pink carnations in a tin can that looks like a pencil. So they’ll put the pink carnations, so this will be their live flower arrangement and will look like that. And then next month is October, and so they’ve made some spooky, Halloween-themed live flowers, and then last year they did a really pretty wreath, spooky Halloween wreath. We have a cornucopia centerpiece up there left over, and then of course all the Homecoming mums.”

Most of the monthly subscribers are teachers, Podlewski said, but they also have people from the community purchase them. They have an order form that goes out every month, and interested customers can find it on the Beckville FFA Facebook page as well as the school website, beckvilleisd.net.

“The money does fund and help support our FFA chapter,” Podlewski said. “So when they do purchase the items, the products and the stuff does go to our FFA chapters. So for these young ladies that are going to travel to like East Texas State Fair to do a landscape design contest and a floral cup contest, so the expenses tied around those contests is what this is helping us pay for.”

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