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NMSU students learn about service animals and horticulture

At New Mexico State University there are a variety of clubs and organizations available for students to join. As an agriculture college, most NMSU clubs center around…. agriculture. Students who are interested in service animals and flower arranging should give the Aggie P.A.W. (Partners for Assistance Through Work) and the NMSU Intercollegiate Floriculture Team a closer look.

P.A.W. is a student organization open to everyone, especially those who have shared interest in the companion animal field.

NMSU Senior Khadijah Fielder and her service dog, Layla. (Photo by Heidi-Andra Smith

The first P.A.W. meeting took place Aug. 30 at the Tejada building inside the Fido lab. There was a presentation of the proper etiquette around service animals.
“You should basically ignore the service animal,” said Cheyenne Eldridge, president of P.A.W. “Because the animal is working or providing a service, it should not be distracted,” she added. When asked about the best reason for joining P.A.W., Eldridge said, “You get to play with cats and dogs.” She sometimes will use this line to get an interested student’s attention, then explain further details about the club.

P.A.W. works with local shelters to find rescue animals a good home. Volunteering with APA (Action Program for Animals) and Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary is also an essential part of the organization. According to its website, APA “seeks to improve the quality of life for companion animals.” Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary’s website states, “Our mission is to offer care and a peaceful living environment for abused, physically handicapped, aged or homeless animals.” Both organizations strive to reduce the number of stray animals in Las Cruces.

P.A.W. will have a nail clinic at the DogCruces Pet Expo from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 9 and 10 at the Las Cruces Convention Center. The cost is $5 per person for attendees age 5 and older.
The club began in 2015 and is open to all majors. The meetings are open to the public when a guest speaker is invited. More information can be found on the P.A.W. Facebook page.

According to the team’s own website, the NMSU Intercollegiate Floriculture Team “is open to any NMSU student. There are no pre-requisites or requirements to become a member, but a healthy dose of enthusiasm for all things flowers helps.”

The team meets at 5:45 p.m. every other Tuesday at Skeen Hall W138, inside the floral lab. Members of the club can also be found selling flowers for fundraising every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. inside the lobby of Gerald Thomas Hall.

“Horticulture was an interest I shared with my father, and in high school. I enrolled in an introductory horticulture class and was hooked,” said Sabine Green, NMSU Floriculture Program Coordinator.

The team traveled to Seattle for the American Institute of Floral Designers Symposium “X” during the 2017 summer break. It was more of an educational experience because the team was not eligible to compete.
The team did fundraising for the entire school year to be able to attend the event. From soliciting sponsorships to spending weekends working farmer’s markets, the team was able to come up with the money. “My students were renewed in their interest in floriculture and the art of flower design,” Green said.

At the symposium, students learned about new floral products. Educational seminars taught state-of-the-art techniques in design, marketing and networking in the floral industry. “We all came back with a refreshed outlook, as well as a great deal of enthusiasm,” Green said. Most of the students are not horticulture majors and many of them thought floral design was the last thing they would excel at as a professional.

Green said, “Try it, you’ll like it. You don’t have to be totally into flowers to find your place in the floral team, class, or club.” The team competed in regionals in Amarillo this summer, taking home first, second and fourth place ribbons. You can find out more about the team on its Facebook page.

(Videos and photos by Linda Sartor and Heidi-Andra Smith)

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