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There is an old saying that ‘if one is good, two is better!’ For five FFA Teams from across the United States, the second “Bring FFA to AIFD Virtual Workshop,” hosted by the AIFD Career Development Committee, was a day to remember. Focusing on this year’s theme of “Fun with Creativity,” Woodbury FFA (Connecticut), North Calloway FFA (Missouri), Cape Fear FFA (North Carolina), Diamond Mountain FFA (Nevada), and Chelan FFA (Washington) joined design instructors, Lisa Belisle AIFD, Lesleighan Cravens AIFD, Sharon McGukin AIFD, and Julia Marie Schmitt AIFD, on Saturday, September 24, 2022, via Zoom. Thanks to this event’s sponsors, students were able to design with tropical flowers while utilizing eco-friendly containers in unique and creative ways. The American Floral Endowment supports this program through an Educational Grant to provide for the education of the next generation of our industry. Additional sponsors included Green Point Nursery, Smither’s-OASIS, and AIFD Foundation.

FFA Students at WorkThe teams learned to grid and lace using rubber bands, create constructions using OASIS foam to support exquisite anthuriums, and create lines and forms with tropical stems and foliage. “The team and I enjoyed working with tropical flowers,” reflects Katherine Robnett, North Calloway FFA Advisor. “It pushed us all out of our comfort zones. It was wonderful learning from experts!”

“My students were challenged with new design techniques,” comments Nevada Diamond Mountain FFA advisor Leslie Zimmerman. “The workshop has sparked more excitement about the floral industry in general and my floriculture course specifically. We placed their designs in a few different classrooms throughout the school, and students have received tons of compliments from staff members and parents. Our art teacher is using the first design as a model for the high school drawing class. “

As the day progressed, students began to be extremely comfortable with the product, and each rose to the challenge of advanced design. Take, for example, Tyler Huddleston from North Calloway FFA, who came out of his shell during this event and blossomed into a more confident floral designer. “I really enjoyed the flowers!” he stated enthusiastically.

“My students absolutely loved it,” comments Amanda Mattingly Chelan, FFA advisor. “They didn’t really know how big of a deal this was going to be, and they could not be more excited about floral design now. They are gushing about the experience constantly. They are not only excited about FFA now, but they are also excited about getting jobs in the floral industry in our area.” 

For the instructors, working with the FFA teams was a rewarding experience. “It is always an honor to educate the FFA students who work so hard to get to Nationals and grab the opportunity to learn more,” comments Lisa Belisle. “Seeing students light up when they get tropical flowers is one of my favorite things as they are so foreign to them, and the end results are fantastic!”

“By allowing the advisors to also design and participate in this course,” explains Julia Marie Schmitt, “we are educating future generations of FFA students and potential members of the floral community through these teachers.”

With two virtual workshops under the belt of the Career Development Committee, this course will now be an annual event with the goal of focusing on the future by fostering floral education for the up-and-coming leaders of our industry.

The Endowment strives to continue to support impactful educational experiences and hands-on learning through programs like these. To learn more about AFE’s Educational Grants and apply by June 1st, click here.

By Julia Marie Schmitt AIFD, CFD, EMC, PFCI, ISFA,
Chair, AIFD Career Development Committee

See the students and their work through the gallery of photos below:

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