Foster Middle School Principles of Agriculture Eighth Graders Tour McShan Florist and Texas Tulips through  Longview ISD Foundation, Inc.’s John W. Harrison, Jr. Academic Field Trip Grant
On Friday, March 8, seventy eighth graders from Foster Middle School who are in Brandon Williamson’s Principles of Agriculture classes traveled to McShan Florist in Dallas and Texas Tulips in Pilot Point. 
Since floral design is part of the students’ area of study, Mr. Williamson’s goal for the trip was to introduce students to the thriving floral industry and the career opportunities it offers. 
Arriving at McShan Florist, students gathered in three groups to begin their tour and learn abut the inner workings of a successful, large-scale florist shop.  They met the owner’s family and learned about the history of the business.  Bruce McShan, company president, joined the family business following graduation from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1970. Jodi McShan, company vice-president and third generation McShan, works at the company while also having a private law practice.  Jodi is active in the Society of American Florists and Texas State Florists’ Association.   McShan Florist is celebrating its seventieth year in business.  Students learned that the company employs seventy-five year-round employees and an additional fifty seasonal employees. 
Next the students toured the company from the loading docks where fresh flowers arrive to the area where floral designers create floral arrangements. 
Jesus Olivan said students toured the large coolers where all varieties of cut flowers lined the shelves.  Gabriel Holloway learned that the company makes arrangements for many holidays and events such as weddings, funerals, and black-tie events in the Dallas area.  In fact, he learned that the floral designs for one very large black-tie event in Dallas earned the company $60,000 in profit.  McShan Florist does over $6,000,000 in business annually. As Mr. Williamson had taught them, a career in floral design could be a profitable choice for the students. 
Estefany Solis explained how designers know what to create for the customer.  Customers place most of their orders online from a catalog of designs.  Floral designers have electronic tablets that tell them what flowers they will need and what the creation should look like according to the design specifications.  Designers have pictures to reference as they create.  Students observed the designers filling orders.  They also saw an area where customers could come in directly and purchase flowers and wreaths. 
Students even saw an arrangement of over 300 yellow roses.  Mr. Williamson estimated that the arrangement cost in the thousands of dollars. 
Mr. Williamson explained that McShan Florist contracts directly with many local growers to supply the many varieties of flowers the company needs daily.  To fill all their orders, the company is open seven days a week. 
After lunch at Cici’s Pizza, the students traveled to Texas Tulips in Pilot Point, Texas, a flower farm well known for its picturesque views and successful flower farming operation. Owned by the Koeman family, Texas Tulips opened in January 2015.  Peter Koeman was no stranger to the tulip industry, having sold flowers to wholesalers in the Netherlands. 
At Texas Tulips, students walked eight acres where about one hundred varieties of tulips were growing.  Students learned that tulip bulbs are activated before the first freeze. Students also learned that the harvesting season for tulips is short:  mid-February through early April, depending on the weather.They learned too that tulip bulbs have a life of three to five years with bulbs multiplying in groups as they develop new sprouts during the growing season.  While students usually associate tulips with Holland, they learned that tulips originated in Asia. 
After learning about growing tulips, each student took a basket into the fields to create his or her own wonderful bouquet of tulips.  Each tulip picked cost $2.50. Instead of picking the first tulips they saw, many students roamed the entire eight acres so they could make the best choices for their bouquet.  In the fields they observed tulips in many shapes from the traditional tulip seen in local floral shops and flower beds to very spiky varieties. Texas Tulips is known for its Texas Gold, Texas Flame, American Dream, fringed, parrot, and striped tulip varieties.  The students said tulips were in every color they could imagine. 
Students explained the advantages of planting bulbs rather than planting above ground plants.  Bulbs, they said, are protected from insects, and since they grow underground, they are protected from animals, wildfires, and snow and ice. 
These students have learned in class how to create a balanced floral design, starting first with the focal point flower and then adding secondary flowers followed by greenery and filler.  Each student said they could now create designs for their own families now and in the future.  All said how much they enjoyed the day of learning and how fun it was to bring their tulip bouquets home to their parents.
By providing funding of $4,034.45, the Longview ISD Foundation, Inc. provided Foster Middle School students with knowledge of a career path in an industry that they would normally be unable to experience firsthand.  The Foundation is proud to offer educators such as Mr. Williamson the opportunity to extend classroom learning through such an academic field trip.
To date, the Longview ISD Foundation, Inc. has funded nineteen field trips, returning $79,480.80 to LISD campuses through this grant program alone.  In total, the Foundation has returned $1,086,082 to LISD classrooms and campuses through its three grant programs: the Great Rewards for Great Ideas Grant Program, the Campus Initiative Grant Program, and the John W. Harrison, Jr. Academic Field Trip Grant Program.
The Foundation will gladly accept donations to continue funding for this grant program.  Donations can be made at  Look for “Ways to Invest” on the homepage.  Interested donors may also contact Kay Ray, Foundation director, at 903-452-7015 or at  Mrs. Ray welcomes the opportunity to speak to community organizations and clubs that wish to support the Foundation and LISD educators.