Tiger Garden events coordinator helps students grow confidence and skills

Hidden deep behind several buckets of flowers, finished wedding bouquets, and tables of current projects sits the clean and orderly desk of Kylee Lawhead.

Lawhead pushed aside her current project and cleared a space to sit and talk. It is 5 p.m. after a long day of creating arrangements, but her smile is still bright and welcoming.

Lawhead is a recent College of Agriculture Food and Natural Resources alum, who graduated with a degree in hospitality management in May 2017. She said her degree provided a good foundation for her current position at the university’s student run floral shop.

As the special events coordinator of Tiger Garden, most of Lawhead’s days are spent amid the commotion of creating floral arrangements for clients, weddings and events. As a hospitality management alum, Lawhead never saw herself as an educator. However, that is exactly what she is doing now.

Currently Lawhead helps students learn how to run a business, work with clients, and budget their time effectively. Her position allows her to manage a group of about five MU students all year long, which is perhaps the most interesting part of her job

“It comes down to being a mentor for students,” Lawhead said. She enjoys watching her students grow and become confident enough to complete larger tasks.

Many of Lawhead’s students remark on her natural knack for picking up on a person’s strengths and weaknesses. Her ability to observe and work with her students’ strengths gives her employees a sense of pride in their work. Observing her as she works with her employees, it is apparent that she has a strong desire to help them succeed. 

“I am always learning from Kylee and being challenged in different ways,” said Sarah Allen, a current hospitality management student that works in Tiger Garden. “Not only does she take the time to explain certain tasks, but she allows me to do most things on my own.” Allen went on to say that her skills and confidence have been greatly improved by having the ability to learn on her own in a hands-on environment.  

With up to four weddings a weekend to prepare for, finding to time to develop students skills through their packed schedule is no easy task. However, Lawhead understands the importance of her employees and always puts their education first.

Kailey Brooks, a former employee who now runs her own floral shop, credits much of her success to Lawhead as well.

“She knows everyone’s strengths on the events team and how to apply them to streamline work on busy weekends,” Brooks said. She went on to say that she appreciated Lawhead’s ability to balance work and fun. Brooks described one of her favorite memories at Tiger Garden when Lawhead took the team to get snow cones and run through a bounce house before returning to work.

“She always knew that having fun is an essential part of creating a positive work environment,” Brooks said.