Flowers delivered for hands-on teaching in MSU’s floral design course

Lynette McDougald, a Flower Management Instructor in MSU’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, delivers real-time flower design courses through Webex, reaching students around the world. (Photo by Dominique Belcher)

Contact: Vanessa Beeson

STARKVILLE, Mississippi – In an age of social distancing and face covering, declining mental health and increasing emotional distress is causing almost everyone to seek solutions during the coronavirus.

An instructor in the state of Mississippi has found a way to reach students around the world and make immediate social and emotional connections through virtual flower design.

Lynette McDougald, Flower Management Teacher, designed and presented the first Basic Flower Design course offered virtually during MSU’s Summer Advantage Online.

“It has been proven in a number of studies that the presence of flowers increases emotional well-being at home, at work and as a gift,” said McDougald, whose class is offered by the Department of Plant Sciences. and the ground. “I don’t think the average flower consumer views buying flowers as buying a highly perishable product, but as an emotion. Flowers convey our emotions when we don’t necessarily have the words.

Especially in the midst of social distancing, she hopes the floral design will help students understand the benefits of living with flowers while instilling in them the principles and elements of craftsmanship. Although the course is a staple of the Flower Management program, it is also approved as a fine arts course and attracts students of all major as a popular elective course.

McDougald knew that in order for students to assimilate the fundamentals of the traditional course, she had to find a way to incorporate hands-on experiential learning that is essential to the program and to student success.

Bright pink flowers are pictured resting on an Apple computer while MSU flower management teacher Lynette Dougald stands in the background.
Lynette McDougald, MSU Flower Management Teacher, designed and presented the first Basic Flower Design course offered virtually during MSU’s Summer Advantage Online. (Photo by Dominique Belcher)

She admitted: “It’s intimidating to know that in the space of five weeks you have integrated design theory, floral care, handling, identification and actual design into virtual learning. “

To achieve a true design experience, flowers were packaged and shipped from a California cut flower farm to the students, each complementing a hand-knotted bouquet, a vase-shaped floral design, and others that were round, symmetrical and asymmetric. Starting with plant identification, each flower selection is chosen for a specific purpose.

“We demonstrate the shapes of the flowers, learn the anatomy, discuss the scent, color and shape of the foliage, and then explore design elements such as texture, scent and color,” McDougald said.

Riley Smith, a biochemistry major from New Zealand, who practically completed his last electives before graduation due to COVID-19, didn’t let the distance stop him from participating.

“I had only heard great things about this floral design class, and it was cool when I was on campus to see the designs the students had completed. I just couldn’t miss the opportunity myself, ”he said, adding that access and availability of flowers in New Zealand was difficult in the middle of winter and in the midst of COVID- 19.

Keeping the designs fresh and colorful was difficult, according to Smith, as was “keeping each design separate from the next and not using the same set of flowers for everything.” “

“At first I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to participate in the lab portion of this course as I’m almost 8,000 miles away, but Ms. McDougald was very helpful and went the extra mile to include me in all ways. despite the distance, ”he said.

To learn more about MSU’s Flower Management Program, visit For more information on the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s premier university, available online at

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