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Women's Open Provides Rare Student Experience
By Molly Kinnan
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The 1999 U.S. Women's Open in West Point is offering professional golfers and some students majoring in retail floristry management the opportunity of a lifetime.
Lynette McDougald, a Mississippi State University instructor of retail floristry management and business manager of University Florist, has selected 14 of her student workers to help plan and create the floral arrangements for the U.S. Women's Open Hospitality Village at Old Waverly. The Village will feature 24 tents especially designed to promote the businesses sponsoring the Open.
"We want our designs to be uniquely Southern with pretty garden style flowers in showy arrangements," McDougald said.
Since the fall, McDougald and her students have been brainstorming theme ideas for the Open. Designers provided each company with a list of themes from which to choose. Some themes chosen were the countries of the world, garden party and a tropical theme which will feature fresh flowers from Hawaii.
The students relied on the knowledge they have gained from their education when it came to deciding which flowers and plants to use at the U.S. Women's Open.
"We're relying on all our classroom and shop experience to prepare for the Open. This has been a great exercise for the students in selecting and procuring flowers and plants," McDougald said.
Brandon Branch, a senior majoring in retail floristry management, said choosing the right flowers and plants for such a major event requires a lot of planning.
"Durability is something you have to look at before exposing a plant to this type of environment. To me the most exciting part will be seeing how the plants we have chosen will adapt to the weather conditions," Branch said. "I never realized how much time and effort you have to invest in order to make your arrangements a success."
MSU ordered about 200 plants for the Open including a variety of ferns, palms, blooming plants and fresh floral arrangements.
Sara Catherine Gibson, student shop manager at the University Florist, agreed that one of the biggest challenges will be making sure the arrangements stay fresh.
"We will have to keep a watchful eye to see which plants need replacing or watering. Since our shop is at MSU, things could get a little hectic, but we are ready for anything," Gibson said.
Regardless of the challenges, students are enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with such a big event.
"As much work as it has been, I'm thankful for the experience I have gained," Branch said.
McDougald said she is proud of the dedication and determination of her students.
"None of the students have had any objection to waking up at 5 a.m. to set up the arrangements. They see this project as an exciting experiment in which they'll be able to apply their skills and creativity," McDougald said.
For the students involved, the Open has proved to be a valid learning experience and has helped to prepare them for careers in retail floristry management.
"Eventually, I hope to make arrangements for big events like this. Being involved with the Open is preparing me for this type of work and supplying me with a great opportunity," said Gibson.
Contact: Lynette McDougald, (662) 325-3585