Not many Americans are called to the White House on official business, but Hadden Powell, a member in the Bleckley County FFA Chapter in Cochran, Ga., had the opportunity to do interior Christmas decorating for the Executive Mansion at just 19 years old.
“I got to help a lot with interior designing for the Christmas trees – all that good stuff in the White House,” Powell said. “It was amazing. I’m ready to go back again.”
Powell started a landscaping business in 2015 for his supervised agricultural experience (SAE), and he mostly focuses on decorative horticulture.
“I started decorating homes for Christmas and stuff like that, and then I got into doing landscapes and interiors recently,” Powell said. “We design for landscapes, interiors, and floor designs, so I did all kinds of events, all kinds of landscapes both commercially and residential.”
As a man with many interests, Powell said his landscaping business began as a way for him to combine his talents and hobbies into one service.
“I’ve always had a thing for outside, I’ve always liked drawing, and I’ve always liked gardening,” he said. “Even from growing up with my grandmother—out in the yard planting bailey leaves or planting hydrangeas—I’ve learned so much from that, I thought I could go out and do it myself and make money off it.”
Powell said his FFA advisors greatly helped him with fieldwork and keeping his business running. However, growing trees and flowers is different from growing crops, he said, so some of his experience is from trial and error over many years.
“Trees obviously take more time to grow, [but] science has helped trees grow genetically faster,” he said. “You see little saplings out there, and then the next year or two, you’ll see them already 10 or 12 feet tall.”
Powell is currently studying landscape architecture at the University of Georgia, and he wants to continue with his landscaping business after graduation.
“I love designing for people and seeing stuff that will last many years and grow,” he said. “I really would like to design golf courses and stuff like that on the coast.”
For FFA members starting their own SAE, Powell said his main advice is to network and learn from mistakes so you can seize any opportunity.
“I’ve gotten to go to many awesome places, such as the White House,” he said. “If it wasn’t for who I knew to get me there, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to go. It’s stepping out of your comfort zone to really learn and to fail. … Failure, I believe, is the biggest success.”