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Fall 2003 - Unique electives

Destination Purdue > Fall 2003 - Unique electives

School of Agriculture offers unique electives

By Michelle Betz

College of Agriculture students sign up for the core classes, like calculus and biology, but they also get to throw some fun electives in the mix.

Entomology prose book

Photo by Michelle Betz

Students in ENTM 111: "Insects in Prose and Poetry" study works that portray insects, including "The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast," pictured above.

Three electives offer students the chance to become insect poets, floral arrangers and wine connoisseurs, respectively. Cailyn Washburn, a sophomore from Kentland, Ind., took ENTM 111: "Insects in Prose and Poetry" after hearing other people brag about the fun they had in it. An agricultural communication major, she also wanted to see how insects are depicted by poets like Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson.

Students analyze poems and how they relate to the insects, the life cycle of htese insects and the physical characteristics of particular insects. "I enjoyed looking at the poems and stories, finding the meaning behind the insects and figuring out why the writers chose them for their stories or poems," Washburn said.

Some students learn how Robert Frost used insect anecdotes, but other students flock to HORT 360: "Flower Arranging" to learn how to assemble bouquets. Melanie Richter, a senior majoring in animal agribusiness from Plymouth, Ind., learning about flower arranging and the steps to take after she said "yes" to her boyfriend's four-word question. "I knew I would be getting married someday, and I wanted to be knowledgeable about the flowers and the florist I chose," Richter said. "I got engaged last summer, so the class holds even more significance."

Students not only learn about floral arrangements for weddings. They learn about interior plant management, and this portion of the class attracts some of the male students. Hands-on experience is also part of the course. A weekly lab allows students to work on arrangements, and Richter finds this relaxing.

"Everyone forgets about their exams, boyfriends, classes and jobs for a while," Richter said. "It is a nice elective for seniors as they got to the end of their college career. Freshmen would enjoy it too, but the seniors really need a 'fun' class in their schedule.

FS 470: "Wine Appreciation" also appeals to upperclassmen. When students enter their junior and senior year, they can take the wine appreciation class offered by the food science department. The reason for the wait is that students must be 21 to taste the wine they study in class. Lucy Whitehead, a senior in agricultural communication, took the class because of her wine-appreciating palate. "I knew it would be an exciting class to take but challenging," Whitehead said. "You get to try all kinds of wine."

There is more to learn about wine than just how it tastes. Students study wine production and marketing principles. They determine the correct food and wine parings, and students also study traditional serving procedures and wine classification systems. These and other complex topics are covered for the 400 or so students who take the class each semester.

"Students take the class not because they think it's going to be easy, but because they have an interest in wine and want to learn more," Whitehead said. Students can sign up for only one of these electives or all three. Whitehead took all three classes and found each one worth signing up for.