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NMSU Floral Judging Team Blossoms at Nationals

LAS CRUCES - From humble beginnings eight years ago, the New Mexico State University floral designers have gone on to capture national honors for the second year in a row.

New Mexico State University floral judging team members and their coach, Sabine Whitley, left, look over contest entries during the National Intercollegiate Floral Crop Quality Evaluation and Design Contest. With Whitley, continuing from left, are students Jessica Lucero, Eva Winans and Robert Parra. (4/08/04) (04/08/2004) Courtesy Photo from NMSU

Horticulture student Kathy Burcham led the design team at the National Intercollegiate Floral Crop Quality Evaluation and Design Contest at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., with a first place in the professional-level competition in wreath decorating.

Burcham, from Cuauhtemoc, Mexico, repeated as a first-place winner. Her amateur competition win last year in one-sided, asymmetrical design was one of three first-place finishes in the 2003 contest, which took place at NMSU.

"I'm really proud of our design team," said coach Sabine Whitley. "I just can't be any more pleased with them. They have just worked so hard."

The coach said the students even worked during spring break to get ready for the competition. Because most of them are older, non-traditional students, their extra efforts for the team mean sacrifices in family or career time.

"I just really appreciate them, because I know they do have other obligations," Whitley said.

NMSU's Jessica Lucero of Dulce captured second this year in the symmetrical centerpiece amateur division at the March 31-April 2 competition.

Sandra Potvin of Cloudcroft took fourth place in the asymmetrical triangle amateur competition. Eva Winans of La Mesa was fifth in the professional-level hand-tied bouquet category.

On the floral judging team, Kerry McNierney of Carlsbad placed in the top half in individual scores for potted plants. Robert Parra of Mesquite and Duane Pfanenstiel of El Paso were close behind.

The NMSU students and coaches were able to spend some of their time in Colorado at the Denver Botanic Gardens, where Whitley said they were especially impressed by the xeriscape exhibit.

What they saw helped inspire them to make plans for a drought-tolerant plant sale in conjunction with Earth Day. The sale is set for 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, on the north lawn of Gerald Thomas Hall.

Whitley said the sale also will offer potted indoor plants for Secretary's Day. The
sale will be conducted in cooperation with Sunland Nursery in Mesilla Park.

Proceeds from the sale will help the teams meet the expenses of a return trip to the botanic gardens this summer.