A Continuing Report from the American Orchid Society Education Committee
By: Sandy Stubbings
What can the AOS do to interest the youth of today in orchids? That is the question that has been consistently addressed by the Education Committee of the AOS. This series of articles is our attempt to involve AOS affiliates in an exchange of ideas that can be used at shows, meetings, and other society activities to engage children in the world of orchids.
Here are some great ideas from Cathy Nowakowski of the Susquehanna Orchid Society in South Central Pennsylvania. Their show is the first weekend of October, part of the Lancaster Art Walk. Since there is a lot of student art work on display in the same building, they attract young people and families to their orchid shows. Individual artistic displays by Orchid Society members are included in the Orchid show, staged in narrow areas of the venue. The orchid show includes florists’ displays (large arrangements highlighting orchids), amateur cut flower arrangements, artistic displays, vignettes, and amateur orchid art as well as the usual society and vendor displays. Judging is done by AOS judges and Garden Federation judges who work together cooperatively. This year the orchid show also included a juried art show coordinated by the Mt. Gretna School of Art.
There is also a People's Choice Award. Small gold bags are placed by each amateur exhibit and everyone entering the show is given a small glass pebble to vote for their favorite display. Many people go through the show several times to decide which display to vote for, and kids love that they get to vote, too.
They had “Make Your Own Bookmarks.” They purchased blanks online with holes and rounded corners. They had white and mixed colors. Stickers were homemade by printing orchid pictures found online on blank ¾” and 1” round, white labels (If you try this, be sure the pictures are free to use without citation. You can also find ready made orchid stickers online.) Colored pencils, crayons, and markers were supplied for making original designs on the bookmarks. They had several colors of narrow ribbon to put through the holes at the tops of the bookmarks. The ribbons added the perfect finishing touches.
Cathy and her group also made a Photo Wall. (In the References see #2, #4 or search the AOS home page menu for “Kids Corner” and check out the articles.) “That was super popular,” said Cathy. People took photos with their phones/cameras of children, other family members and friends who put their faces in the hole in the orchid flower. According to Cathy, the orchid show got “great, free, timely publicity” from people posting these photos on social networks, especially Facebook. Perhaps a sign could suggest that people share in this way at your Photo Wall.
One of the vignettes, done by member Pat Collins, allowed visitors to sit behind a large, open picture frame. Friends or family members could take their pictures looking like they were in a Victorian sitting room (Theme was “Victorian Visions.) Of course there were orchid plants in the picture frame, too.
Those ideas really added something extra to the show, making it a real family event. Thanks so much for sharing!