Students Learn Life Skills While Running Plant Sale

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DES MOINES, Iowa –From blooming baskets to fruits and vegetables, you'll find it at a greenhouse on County Line Road.

Lincoln High School Sophomore Sophia Anderson said, "There's a lot of things you can get here you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else."

The sales people are unique. They’re all students. Horticulture Science Instructor Craig Nelson said, “A customer will walk up to me. I will point to a student and say, this young lady, this young man will help you."

The students' work at the Central Campus Greenhouse and Nursery is part of Nelson's Horticulture Science class. "We learn plant science, how to grow plants, how to propagate plants, which is cuttings and seeds, and then growing and marketing," said Nelson.

150 students are enrolled through Central Campus. They take turns manning the greenhouse during the FFA's annual spring sale. "All these different plants, we go around. We have all these tests in the beginning of the year. 160 plants we learn. We have to memorize and go through and write them down," said Roosevelt High School Freshman Eva Lackman.

The plant sale is the students' final. They need to know everything about all the plants to answer customers' questions, in addition to learning life skills. Nelson said, "A lot of my kids, they live in apartments. They don't get a lot of opportunity to go out and get hands on to learn how to work, learn how to dedicate yourself to something, learn how to pay attention to details."

The students sell thousands of plants, and profits are put back into the program. Those who work a certain number of shifts and meet goals get a reward. “If you participate for two years, you get to go to Europe. There's a certain number of things you have to do. Like, you have to show up and be on time," said Sophia.

It's all part of the learning experience while helping people get their gardens growing. Lincoln High School Sophomore Abby Knafla said, "We have all kinds of plants out here. They can see all the things that we're doing. They really see all the hard work we put into this program."

The plant sale runs through the first week of June. It’s at the Central Campus Greenhouse located at 201 Southwest County Line Road. It’s open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.