Ag students auction poinsettias

December 10, 2009

by September Denton

The department of agricultural sciences hosted the seventh annual poinsettia auction in Lomax Hall Dec. 3 and raised $4,925 for its scholarship fund. The auction included 31 lots consisting of poinsettias, cactuses and chrysanthemums, making a total of 67 plants. The plants varied in size from four-inch pixie poinsettias to 10-inch poinsettia trees.

Roxie Jordan, greenhouse supervisor, said the auction consisted of the best selection of the poinsettias, also known as euphorbia pulcherrima, grown over the year.

“The auction allows people to come and bid the prices of the plants up to several hundred dollars each,” she said.

Peter Gallagher, professor of agricultural sciences, said there were 14 varieties of poinsettias at the auction including Holly Plant, Prestige Red and Strawberries and Cream.

“Almost all of the poinsettias are first produced in California, and they choose the names based on a feature about the plant,” he said.

Gallagher said the poinsettias are ordered as rooted cutlets bits cut off from a primary plant by cartons of 100 and shipped by plane.

“We generally start growing them during the beginning or middle of April, and it takes about eight months to produce the plants,” he said. “By July, we have all kinds of branches from the cutlets and by August, they’re rooted.”

Once they are sold in the auction, Gallagher said all of the proceeds go directly to the scholarship fund, while the proceeds from poinsettias sold at a standard rate in the Tech Farm Salesroom go to greenhouse operations.

“It’s a matter of wanting to make a contribution and in the process getting something really nice in return,” he said.

He said the scholarship can be awarded to anyone majoring in agricultural science, which includes plant science, animal science, agricultural business and agricultural education.

“Typically 30 to 40 students in the department get some form of scholarship partly from the auction and partly from other sources,” he said.

Samantha Crowder, a senior agricultural business major, said she received scholarship money from the department.

She said the scholarship committee chooses scholarship winners at the end of the year based on what they bring to the table and why they feel the students should have financial aid.

“The poinsettia auction brings all kinds of people from the area to help support the fund,” she said. “We have a great following. It’s usually a lot of the same people every year.”

Amanda Perkins, a senior animal science major, said she feels that the agricultural sciences department puts a lot of effort into finding ways to raise money for scholarships.

“All of the faculty and students play some role in the poinsettia auction, from student workers who water plants and make bows, to faculty who find alumni to support the department by buying poinsettias,” she said. “The auction brings together students, faculty, alumni and local Ruston citizens.”