Horticulture class grows minds, fellowship
May 3, 2023
Big windows, sunlight, and most importantly plants. This is the greenhouse where Paul Millar’s horticulture students spend most of their time. Unlike most classes, they spend the majority of class in the rooftop garden or the greenhouse planting, learning and growing.
Millar makes it his mission to create interesting ways to learn for his students.
“I always liked that it was hands-on. We didn’t spend the whole time in the classroom,” Millar said.
Millar is a former Wando student, who was unsure of what collegiate path to follow. His teacher, Katie Donahoe, made a big impact on him and his horticulture journey.
“The horticulture class really inspired me to start growing plants in my home, getting my garden going and eventually go to college to study horticulture and come back here,” Millar said.
The class introduces students to an array of careers in horticulture such as public gardening, landscaping, greenhouse nursery and landscape design.
Not only does Millar teach five different horticulture classes, he leads the Future Farmers of America chapter. The club was started last year by a previous teacher but has grown more popular this year.
“I think it’s going great. We get to apply a lot of the things that we learned in the classroom, getting more gardens to go into, and getting the kids to experience some equipment like the tractor,” Millar said.
The program has made huge impacts on many of the students including junior Ella Davis, who is currently enrolled in the class Greenhouse Technology. Davis spends her mornings at the greenhouse, fulfilling her duties that include inspecting and watering the plants.
“I water the whole greenhouse, so I go in during the weekends and make sure everything’s staying alive,” Davis said.
The class is a way for her to spend her time, giving her a relaxing outlet as well. Davis grew up on a farm which initially sparked her interest in horticulture.
“My dad was the farm manager. So he practically ran it. And then my brother and I were homeschooled. So we lived there. It was fun. It’s kind of a really unique childhood thing to say,” Davis said.
Being a part of the class and club has given Davis a full circle moment back to her childhood and even brought her closer to her dad.
“I think that horticulture has really been a big impact. I like that we’ve been able to converse about things and he gets really excited to see what I’ve been doing,” Davis said.
Aside from spending her time in the greenhouse, Davis finds herself highly involved in the Horticulture club as well.
“Last year, you go to these FFA conventions, kind of like different places throughout the nation. You have to memorize plant ID and the scientific names of plants, and like what climates they need to live in,” Davis said.
There’s not usually any competitions until the end of April or early May, so until then Davis and her classmates are focusing on the plant sale that is coming up. Students will be able to come by the greenhouse and buy a plant to take care of.
“We’re just trying to make sure every plant lives long enough for the plant sales. So we all like to get in there every morning and check on our own plants, make sure everything’s good looking, healthy and everything. I kind of think of it as like a doctor’s office, you take a baby to a pediatrician. It’s just like checking in and making sure the plants are healthy,” Davis said.