STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State's student chapter of the American Institute of Floral Designers again is a national winner.
In competition that was part of the 2013 AIFD Symposium in Las Vegas, Nev., the university group of floral management majors took first place overall in the competition. Individual team members also scored high, including:
--Graduating senior Elizabeth C. "Beth" McDougald of Starkville, who placed first overall in the individual design category;
--Graduating senior Kate Huseman of Natchez, who placed in the Top 10 of two judging categories; and
--Senior Kailie R. Dunlap of Meridian, who finished in the top 12 of one category.
The California Polytechnic State University, State University of New York at Cobleskill, Texas A&M University, and the universities of Illinois and Missouri were other institutions fielding design teams in the national challenge.
Over the decades, MSU's AIFD chapter consistently has produced winning students and the organization is nationally recognized by its peers. This year, in a break from tradition, the campus group served as host for the annual gathering's first-ever student reception.
"The reception originally was to last an hour, but went on for more than two," said chapter adviser Lynette McDougald, an AIFD member.
"Many of the participating students said it was the best thing that ever had happened to them at the national event; they learned so much about each other, their schools and classes," she said. "We assured our students that they were beginning a network of peers that would continue for the remainder of their professional floral careers."
One of only a few of its kind, MSU's four-year floral management degree program is offered through the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' plant and soil sciences department. It combines artistic design, horticulture, business management and the sciences to prepare majors for careers in retail and wholesale marketing, special-event designing, display gardening, and other areas.
A professional flower shop owned and operated by the department, The University Florist, also provides students with daily, hands-on work and management experiences. For more, visit www.pss.msstate.edu and www.theuniversityflorist.com.
McDougald is the campus shop's florist manager, as well as a plant and soil sciences department instructor.
Established in 1965, AIFD is the industry's leading non-profit organization dedicated to establishing, maintaining and recognizing the highest standards of professional floral design. Additional information is available at www.aifd.org.