Millsaps spring plant sale underway to raise funds for FFA

Horticulture teacher Randy Carlisle (left) guides students through the process of watering ferns on Wednesday. (Photo by Ryan Phillips, SDN)

Millsaps Career and Technology Center is holding its spring plant sale in an annual effort to raise funds for the Future Farmers of America (FFA) club at the school.

Horticulture teacher Randy Carlisle leads the students in the annual fundraiser, helping them learn how to grow plants from seeds and plugs, along with using the course to teach students about running a business.

Carlisle said the 2017 installment of the plant sale has seen the best turnout in the last three to five years.

“The state FFA competition is this week at Mississippi State and every year we take some in October to the national competition,” he said. “This is how we pay for it.”

The plant sale is open to the public every day from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and will also be open on Good Friday and the following Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. both days.

Senior Haley Linley, 18, is one of the 36 students in the horticulture class participating in the plant sale. This year will make three years straight Linley has helped with the fundraiser.

“Basically, people from the community come out, and they have questions,” she said. “We practice and learn a lot about each plant so we can tell them on the spot about what they are asking.”

Linley said she also appreciates the sense of work ethic and accountability gained from working with the fundraiser.

“You’re always trying to get into that work environment so you can start learning and interact with people in the community,” she said. “It’s a really great opportunity for us in this class.”

Senior Joey Claybrook, 18, said he enjoys the work atmosphere, with the guys working outside doing tasks like mixing soil, while the girls help plant flowers in the greenhouse.

The biggest benefit for Claybrook, though, is the opportunity to gain skills through on-the-job training.

“We learn about business, and it teaches you how to work and you get to interact with a lot of different people,” Claybrook said. “I’ve always grown up working in the yard and doing work like this and thought taking this class would be fun.”

Carlisle said this year’s hot-ticket items have been Coleus and ferns.

“We sell Macho Ferns, Kimberly Ferns and Boston Ferns for $10 each, which is as cheap as you can get anywhere and the money stays in the school locally,” he said. “I tell people all the time it doesn’t go to some box store out of town, it goes back to our kids right here in the school system.”

In addition to the big sellers, Carlisle said they also sell Hibiscus, Mandevilla, roses and other plants that are starting to come in season. The slew of offerings also features vegetables.

“All vegetables are a dollar each, so they are cheap as you can get them anywhere,” he said. “They are grown right here and all that money goes back to FFA to fund these kids in competition.”