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The Flower Show

Celebrating Youth Exhibitors at the 2024 Philadelphia Flower Show

February 15, 2024

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By Melissa O’Brien 

Young exhibitors play a vital role at the esteemed PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, infusing it with fresh perspectives and boundless creativity. While most exhibit classes welcome exhibitors of all ages, certain categories are reserved exclusively for young people. These categories provide youth gardeners and artists unique opportunities to showcase their talents and passion for plants. 

In the Artistic classes at the upcoming 2024 Flower Show, students in grades 3 through 12 are invited to share their heritage or personal celebrations through pressed plant compositions in "Pressed Plants: What's Your Story?" High-schoolers can explore Botanical Arts by designing pins or brooches inspired by garden-friendly insects in "Precious Pollinators." In the Horticulture Youth classes, students are tasked with showcasing their green thumbs and botanical knowledge. With classes like Narcissus 'Ice Follies' and bulb gardens, young exhibitors can cultivate their love for plants and compete alongside their peers. The Flower Show provides volunteer School and Youth Exhibitor Liaisons to guide teachers and young people throughout the entry process. 

To learn more about the Flower Show youth classes, we spoke with three teachers who assist and inspire youth exhibitors to display their talents at this world-famous event. 

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Khara Flint: Cultivating Creativity in Floral Artistry 

Khara Flint, a devoted member of the Pressed Plant committee and chair of the Flower Show Club in Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, shared her captivating journey from exhibitor to educator within the dynamic realm of floral artistry. Khara's involvement in the Flower Show traces back to the early 2000s when she first participated as an exhibitor, drawn in by the enchanting atmosphere of behind-the-scenes preparations. Reflecting on her evolution from vendor to pressed plant enthusiast, Khara fondly recalls her initial admiration for the medium, stating, "I always admired the pressed plants... and I noticed through the years how the artwork had progressed and become more refined." Over the past decade, Khara's passion for floral artistry has flourished into a nurturing role as an educator, guiding students from middle school to high school in their exploration of this captivating craft. 

For Khara, the Flower Show Club is more than an extracurricular activity; it's a transformative experience for students of all ages. She emphasizes the empowering impact of the club, noting how it serves as a "happy space" for students, offering a meditative outlet amidst the pressures of academia. Witnessing students' growth and creativity firsthand, Khara shares touching stories of students finding solace and confidence through floral art, with some even continuing their journey into college with newfound skills and accolades. As the club continues to thrive and expand its outreach, Khara's dedication to preserving the art of pressed plant and fostering creativity within the community shines brightly, promising a future where floral artistry continues to inspire and uplift generations to come. 

RCSJ Students find success at the Philadelphia Flower Show!

Joe Alvarez: Nurturing Horticultural Passion at Rowan College  

The Philadelphia Flower Show has long been a cherished tradition for many, drawing crowds with its vibrant displays and enchanting atmosphere. For Joe Alvarez, a member of Rowan College of South Jersey's faculty, his journey with the Show began with childhood visits and evolved into a pivotal role in orchestrating the college's participation. Reflecting on his transition from attendee to organizer, Joe reminisced, "For the first 35 years of my life, I was always a member in and out. The Flower Show was the thing to go to in March." However, his involvement took a significant turn in 2016 when he joined the college as a faculty member, leading him to oversee the herbaceous ornamental horticulture classes and eventually chair the college's exhibiting committee.  

Joe's commitment to integrating the Flower Show into the college's curriculum underscores the transformative impact it has on students. With the Show becoming an official part of the syllabus, students not only assist in preparing the college's entries but also gain insight into the vast opportunities within the horticulture field. Joe noted, "They thought that grandma's garden was just grandma's garden in the back, but they didn't realize that everything from forest reforestation and remediation out in the wild all the way to doing crops and greenhouse production...was something that they could do as a career." As students immerse themselves in the intricacies of horticulture, their wide-eyed wonder at the show's grandeur speaks volumes about the invaluable experiences it offers.  

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Dee Amey: Cultivating Tomorrow's Gardeners 

Long-time exhibitor Dee Amey, who has been involved with the Flower Show since her childhood, shared her journey from being a spectator to becoming an active participant alongside her students. Reflecting on her earliest memories of the Flower Show, Dee recalls, "I remember the first one I saw was in 1986... I just thought it was so cool." This initial fascination sparked a lifelong passion for horticulture and exhibition, eventually leading her to integrate the Flower Show into her teaching curriculum at Lansdowne Friends School. Dee’s journey underscores the profound impact of early exposure to events like the Flower Show in shaping lifelong interests and pursuits. 

Throughout our interview, Dee shed light on the meticulous process of preparing students for participation in the Flower Show. From selecting the perfect bulbs to nurturing them through growth, her students are deeply engaged in every step of the journey. Dee emphasized the hands-on nature of the experience, noting, "They usually plant two or three bulbs per student in January with the odds of one coming up and being Show ready or perfect." Beyond fostering a love for gardening, the Flower Show serves as an educational platform, enabling students to learn about plant biology, environmental stewardship, and teamwork. Dee’s dedication to guiding and empowering young exhibitors underscores the transformative potential of youth involvement in events traditionally dominated by adults. 

These young talents showcase boundless creativity and a fresh perspective.

Growing the Next Generation of Flower Show Enthusiasts

Celebrating the vibrant contributions of youth exhibitors at the 2024 Flower Show reveals their pivotal role in infusing innovation and inspiration into the horticultural community. From artistic pressed plant compositions to meticulous horticultural displays, these young talents showcase boundless creativity and a fresh perspective. Guided by educators like Khara Flint, Joe Alvarez, and Dee Amey, they not only exhibit their skills but also grow as individuals, nurturing the next generation of Flower Show enthusiasts. As we anticipate this year's showcase, let's honor the dedication and creativity of these young exhibitors, recognizing their profound impact on shaping the future of horticulture at the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show.

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