ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Students will compete in a new type of competition at the New Mexico State Fair this year. The Flowers and Finances competition will challenge students to create bouquets while keeping track of how much money they are spending on flowers.

“Basically, the design of their arrangement is looked at based on just how good it’s put together. And then, of course, their budget and their numbers, if they’re accurate. And then they’re asked a couple questions and they also have to explain why they calculated their markup price and sales price the way they did,” said Bailey Wrye, who came up with the idea for the contest.

New Mexico State University student Bailey Wrye presented her concept of the Flowers and Finances contest at the Farm Financial Standards Council in Moline, Illinois in July 2023. (Credit: NMSU Assistant Professor Frannie Miller)

Wrye, who is majoring in agricultural business at New Mexico State University (NMSU), said she created the contest based on her interests. “Really, floral design and ag (agricultural) business, and I really wanted to find out how I could combine them. And so this is what I did,” she said.

Wrye said her interest in flowers came from growing up in a flower shop. “My mom used to own a flower shop in Albuquerque actually. So it’s kind of just in my blood, flowers,” she explained. In July, Wrye presented her idea for the contest at the Farm Financial Standards Council in Moline, Illinois.

A total of 11 teams composed of two students per team will take part in the event at the state fair. The first-place team will win a $1,000 scholarship and the second-place team will receive a $500 scholarship. After the contest, the bouquets will be auctioned off. “Then half of the proceeds will go to the student, and then half of them will go back to us so we can make the contest bigger,” Wyre said. Winners will also receive a belt buckle.

Belt buckles will be awarded to the winners of the Floral and Finances contest at the 2023 New Mexico State Fair. (Credit: Bailey Wrye)

Frannie Miller, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business at NMSU, has helped forge the collaboration between NMSU and the New Mexico State Fair. She said the competition also helps shed a positive light on NMSU. “It’s kind of a way for us to highlight the flexibility of an ag econ (agricultural economics) or ag (agricultural) business degree. So we’re really excited about that aspect,” said Miller.

The Flowers and Finances competition will take place at the New Mexico State Fair along with the Agricultural Science Fair and Public Speaking contests on Saturday, Sept. 9. The competitions are open to students ages eight to 18.

There will be 28 public speakers and 13 students who will present about agricultural science.

Miller said having these types of competitions take place in New Mexico can benefit students in multiple ways. “I can’t think of anything that is more valuable to a kid as they go forward than public speaking, and also those kids that are interested in kind of an agro (agricultural) science and research, and exploring their own curiosity, developing a scientific mindset. So that’s my favorite part,” Miller explained.

The competitions also help students who are looking to compete at the national level. “Before we started these contests, we hadn’t had any kid win a national championship in agro (agricultural) science. Now we’ve had three kids. So you give New Mexican kids a little bit of a chance, and they really perform at the national level,” said Miller.

The winners of the Agricultural Science Fair and Public Speaking contests will also receive belt buckles and scholarships from NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. Ag New Mexico Farm Credit has sponsored all divisions.

Schedule of events on Sept. 9:

Public Speaking Contest:

  • 8:30 a.m.: Novice, junior, and senior competitions begin at the Youth Hall
  • 12:30 p.m.: Senior Public Speaking final round at the Youth Hall

Agricultural Science Fair

  • 9:30 a.m.: Judging begins at Youth Hall

Flowers and Finances Contest:

  • 4 p.m. in the Youth Hall

Awards and auction:

  • 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Awards will be held at the New Mexico Department of Agriculture  Country Store pavilion. The top half of floral arrangements will be auctioned off immediately following the awards.

The New Mexico State Fair is open at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque and will end on Sept. 17. Tickets are available at this link.