How to turn students into entrepreneurs

When her students started their own floral business, they developed career skills and earned industry certification

Fertile ground

Besides the floral club arrangements, we also design and sell floral arrangements for special events such as weddings, baby showers, and banquets. Our principal has been very supportive. He lets me pull my advanced floral design students out of class on the Friday before a wedding or a special event, and we hammer out those arrangements. On the day of the wedding, we use the school van to deliver them, and we also set them up on site.

With the CTE Pathways grant we received from the state for creating a horticulture pathway, we were able to purchase a refrigerator last year to hold all of our floral arrangements. But we’re growing so fast that we’re looking to buy a second fridge!

We promote our floral design business through social media, by emailing parents and community members, and by having students bring flyers to local businesses. The students are heavily involved in business operations. In addition to advertising, they help with consultations and with ordering flowers. Of course, they assemble and deliver the arrangements as well.

Blossoming entrepreneurs

The impact of running a business extends beyond what students are learning in my floral design classes. They often stay after school or show up before school starts to help out. And they’re not just helping me. They also go into other teachers’ classrooms and say, “I just got done making a floral arrangement. While I’m here, do you need anything?” They are much more engaged in our school community.

We’re using iCEV’s online career and technical education curriculum for the program, which also gives students the ability to become industry certified. About a dozen students demonstrated serious interest in floral design, based on their grades and participation, and earned a certification last year.
Having an industry-backed certification is very motivating. It shows they have worked hard toward their goals, and it gives them the confidence to get a job in the field. Students’ resumes are usually pretty bare, and having that extra credential means a lot to them. It also means a lot to employers. Last summer, eight of my graduating seniors ended up getting a job with a local florist.

A key to our success has been the administrative support. Once our principal and CTE administrator could see that we were making money from these efforts and building a self-sustaining program, it was easier for them to approve what we were doing—but getting to that point requires a great deal of trust at first.

Creating a student-run business has allowed us to support a valuable CTE program that is preparing students for a career they enjoy. It helps them develop important entrepreneurial skills—such as taking initiative, marketing their services, and interacting with customers—that will serve them well in whichever field they choose.

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