Whenever Andi Miteen has some extra time between classes at Southview High School, she's likely to be found in the landscaping-floriculture room in the school's far southeast corner.
"I love it. This is where I spend most of my day," she said last week. "If you want to find me, come here and I'll probably be by within an hour."
Andi is one of five Southview students, along with a 2009 graduate, from the Sylvania FFA chapter who will head to Indianapolis Oct. 21 to 24 to enter the National FFA Nursery and Landscape Career Development Event during FFA's national convention.
Also making the trip will be Casey Fukely, Ashley Lewis, and Justin Martin, as well as alternates Sarah Carver and Kristi Skinkiss.
Mr. Martin is the graduate, having qualified last spring in state-level competition with his teammates. He now works for a local landscaping firm and hopes eventually to start his own business.
"I originally never thought I'd be doing this well," Mr. Martin said.
Casey said the competition also will boost her college applications.
"To go to nationals is such an honor, and we're going to try our best there," she said.
Andi and Sarah have been to FFA national competition before - they went to the floriculture nationals last year - but it's the first time the Sylvania chapter has qualified an entire team for national competition, advisor Rich Fredrick said.
"They make me look smart," said Mr. Fredrick, a career-technology teacher at Southview. "They're city-type kids, so it's a little unusual for them to go to an FFA event. But we're more landscape-greenhouse oriented here in the suburbs, anyway."
The students will compete for $1,000 scholarships. But a potentially more valuable aspect of the FFA event is that, through the technical knowledge and skills they demonstrate, they can earn professional certification in various aspects of landscaping, lawn care, nursery operation, and irrigation.
"Everything's about how many letters you have behind your name now," Mr. Fredrick said.
Casey works after school and during the summers as a landscape intern with the Olander Park System, and credits the Southview program with getting her started. A senior in high school, she started in the landscape class as a sophomore.
"Without this program, I wouldn't have fallen in love with landscape architecture," Casey said.