Horticulture teacher Kendra Pearce receives Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award
WOODLAND — Woodland High School’s annual plant sale put on by students of the school’s horticulture classes would have been canceled this year due to the pandemic had it not been for the quick thinking and teamwork to take the sale online. The effort included more than 40 students and nearly two dozen current and retired district employees led by Kendra Pearce, horticulture teacher for the school, who also received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award for District 8 from FFA.
An incredibly popular and long-running tradition, the high school’s annual plant sale was nearly canceled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus, something that would have devastated Pearce’s students and the community.
“When I learned that students might not be able to participate in the plant sale, I was heartbroken,” said Pearce. “Since the start of the school year, the students had spent hours and hours in the greenhouse planting, propagating, and managing their more than a thousand plants.”
Pearce came up with a solution – take the plant sale online. However, she only had two weeks to figure out how to make it happen.
“After conferring with agriculture teachers throughout the state and investigating options that we could put in place in our incredibly limited time-frame, we decided to use the InTouch payment platform the district uses to accept meal and Skyward Family Access payments from parents,” she said. “However, InTouch isn’t intended for e-commerce so our business manager, Stacy Brown, helped make it happen by working with me and my horticulture students to upload individual photos, descriptions, and pricing for 123 unique plant varieties.”
In addition to accepting payments online, Pearce and Brown developed a way for customers to pick up their plants while still following the coronavirus prevention procedures in place.
“We created a separate scheduling system for buyers to choose specific days and times to pick up their orders from stations set up outside at the high school,” said Pearce. “The online scheduling system then had to feed into a separate spreadsheet system so the students could prepare and set out orders in the same order that buyers would arrive to pick them up.”
For Pearce, her background as a land use planner at a local firm for several years and her continuing volunteer work as a coordinator for a large volunteer program for Clark County were instrumental in providing her the skills she needed to develop the complex solution.
“I’m a planner, professionally, whether it was at my past jobs or for my current role as a teacher where I have to track thousands of plants cared for by 40-plus students over the course of the year,” she explained. “The students were key to make the plant sale possible – they prepared each order and ensured each one was in the right place at the right time for customers to pick them up.”
In addition to her classes of students, nearly two dozen current and retired staff members helped administer the sale from checking in customers to ensuring everything went smoothly. Following the sale, a survey of customers provided valuable feedback for future plant sales.
“Nearly a third of the respondents would like to see us continue the online sale in the future, however, many of them said they prefer to shop for their plants in-person, of course,” said Pearce. “That being said, 97 percent of the respondents said the pick-up process was easy, and the results certainly speak for themselves as we sold nearly 85 percent of what we would during a normal year – a pretty remarkable feat seeing as how we’d never held a sale online prior to this.”
Pearce’s efforts making the online plant sale a reality didn’t go unnoticed, as the FFA awarded her Outstanding Teacher of the Year for District 8 which covers an expansive area including districts as far south as Vancouver and as far east as Toutle Lake.
“I am honored and humbled to receive the award, this year, in particular,” said Pearce. “I truly believe this is the year every agriculture teacher deserves an ‘outstanding’ award, regardless of whether their name is on a plaque or not.”
To learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community, visit the dedicated news webpage at https://www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd
Information provided by Woodland Public Schools.