COLLEGE STATION – Students hovered over buckets of colorful flowers and greenery in a classroom at Texas A&M University intent on making bouquets for their teacher, Bill McKinley.
But these students who hope flowers will wow their teacher for a better grade have a reason – they are floral design students, and their guest instructor was American Institute of Floral Designers’ Artist in Residence Sharon McGukin, Carrolton, Ga.
“The program allows us the access with potential young talent that we would like to encourage in our industry,” McGukin said. “And allows the students to speak with experienced designers about what our jobs are and how we interact with the flowers in the industry. I have spoken with several students today about potential career paths. So it gives them the opportunity to speak to someone active in the business as well as to explore some new design styles.”
She said the Artist in Residence program is mutually beneficial for the floral industry, the students and the university.
“I still am astounded by how beautiful something can be – like a rose that I’ve seen dozens of times but that one is just particularly beautiful,” said McGukin, who has been a floral designer for 39 years and is author of “Flowers of the heart – a bride’s guide to choosing flowers for her wedding.”
“And to have the opportunity to share that passion with these young energies that can come into our industry, and re-energize, it is exciting to me,” said McGukin, who instructed the students on making floral cuffs one day and hand-tied bouquets the next.
She said the program allows professional designers to share new trends, tips and techniques as the classes are learning to do different styles of design.
“And I gave them a chance to get hands-on with the flowers and enjoy new styles that perhaps they haven’t experimented with before,” she added.
McGukin was the guest of the Texas A&M University horticulture department and of McKinley, who also is the Benz School of Floral Design director. For more information about the Artist in Residence program, university classes or the Benz School, contact McKinley at 979-862-2768 or email@example.com.