Floristry Classes Provide Personal and Professional Development Opportunities
Pamela Jarvis (left), past Floristry student
and Tricia Hewitt (right), lead Floristry
instructor confer about the composition
of the flower arrangement. Hewitt and
Jarvis are co-owners of Thurston
Flowers located in Springfield.
By Chris Cunningham
Standing in the flower cooler at Oregon Floral Distributors, Lane Community College student Katie Gulewich listens to floristry instructor Tricia Hewitt lecture on flower identification.
The heady fragrance mixed with cool air is like a bit of heaven for 31-year old Katie, who is enrolled in basic floral design, and a basic floral lecture and lab—all Continuing Education evening classes at Lane.
"The classes are a stress reliever," admits Katie, who on a recent evening sliced off the top of a pumpkin before fashioning an autumn arrangement of moss, leaves, and auburn-hued mums.
"It's my little, happy place after a long day of work," says Katie, who works in the insurance industry.
Katie, who intends to earn an award of completion in floristry, is required to take 24 elective hours in addition to six core classes of 15 hours each, for which she will earn 15 to 18 credits.
Students also have the option of participating in a 15-hour florist shop practicum—a valuable experience for those "who want to see how a real flower shop operates," says Tricia, Lane's lead floral instructor for the past 12 years.
A 30-year veteran in the floral industry, Tricia is the principal designer at Thurston Flowers in Springfield. The shop's co-owner, Pamela Jarvis, earned a floral program award of completion in 2010.
Tricia teaches basic, intermediate and advanced floristry core classes, which include lectures on design principles, retail skills and customer service. Fran Sondag helps Tricia teach elective classes that focus on seasonal designs and weddings.
"It's obvious" that Tricia has decades of experience, Katie says, noting that the instructor can deftly move a single flower or some greens to another position, and instantly create a thing of beauty.
"She understands it's not going to be perfect" at first, Katie says, and "is right there to help you."
Of the eight to 12 students who enroll in Tricia's classes each quarter, two students usually "are serious enough to seek employment" in floral shops or with floral distributors, or even as freelance arrangers for special events, Tricia says. "People generally find a niche if they want to."
No matter what her students' goals are, Tricia knows one thing: "I want them to love flowers."
Katie doesn't need convincing: Each week she takes home her floral arrangements, grateful that she can create another "little, happy place" full of heady fragrance.