Four floral industry members with varied and distinguished experience are set to be inducted into the American Academy of Floriculture (AAF). The honorees have earned the prestigious rank by committing their time and energy to both the floral industry and their local communities.
The 2020 AAF inductees are: Debi Chedester, AAF, of American Floral Endowment in Alexandria, Virginia; James DelPrince, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, Mississippi; Charles Ingrum, AAF, of Dr Delphinium Designs in Dallas, Texas; and Jennifer Thomasson, AAF, AIFD, EMC, PFCI, of Jenny T Floristry in Florissant, Missouri.
The new AAF members will be honored during SAF’s Annual Convention in 2021. SAF has made the decision to cancel SAF Phoenix 2020, where recipients would have been inducted, in keeping with government regulations regarding travel and crowd size. Since there will not be an Annual Convention in 2020, newly selected members of the Academy will be inducted at the Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner during SAF’s Annual Convention in 2021 alongside all 2021 inductees. Current recipients can begin using their designation immediately.
AAF members are vetted for volunteering and leadership service to the industry and their communities, and each application must be submitted with several letters of recommendation from local community professionals and peers in the industry.
“The AAF designation is recognized throughout our industry as a special honor for individuals who contribute to the floral trade and to their communities,” said SAF Awards Committee Chair Lori Wheat, AAF, of Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop & Garden Center in Lafayette, Colorado. “This group is acknowledged for their leadership and spirit of helping. Congratulations to the AAF Class of 2020.”
An overview of each inductee’s accomplishments follows:
Debi Chedester, AAF
Debi Chedester serves as the executive director of the American Floral Endowment in Alexandria Virginia, the floral industry’s charitable organization that funds research, scholarships, grants and internships for the floral industry. Prior to joining AFE in 2008, she spent nine years at the Society of American Florists. Chedester is an active member of the floral industry currently serving on the Advisory Council for Seed Your Future, the Floral Council for the Produce Marketing Association, as a participating member of the Floral Summit Group and as the Executive Director and board member of the Floral Marketing Research Fund.
Chedester’s passion for the floral industry keeps her busy looking at new ways to support and promote industry programs and resources through collaborative efforts. She’s also an active member of her community having served in numerous volunteer leadership positions and chairing community fundraising events annually to support local charities.
James DelPrince, AAF, AIFD, PFCI
James DelPrince is an assistant professor for Mississippi State University Research and Extension Center. He has been with MSU for 28 years and experienced firsthand the positive impact higher education has on providing science-based information to learners in for-credit and non-credit floriculture programs. At the MSU Extension, DelPrince stays connected to the floral industry through events that include regular interaction with retailers, growers and wholesalers. DelPrince is a member of the American Society of Horticultural Science, ASHS Southern Region and has been a member of SAF since 2000 and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers since 2015.
DelPrince also held a floral community position at AmericanHort from 2014-2015 and has been a Laureate Member with AIFD since 1992. DelPrince was inducted into PFCI in 2004 and received the Award for Distinguished Service into the floral industry from AIFD in 2016. He stays connected with his community through Patio Planters, a philanthropic garden club that raises funds for events, school garden plants, supplies and hardscapes.
Charles Ingrum, AAF
Charles Ingrum is the owner and general manager of Dr Delphinium Designs and has been in the floral industry for 18 years. Ingrum is an active member in the floral industry, participating in SAF events, industry study groups for The Great Lakes Group and Teleflora conferences. He also has been a member of SAF and the Texas State Floral Association since 2002 and on the Teleflora RTI Advisory Team since 2003. He was a member of SAF’s Retail Council from 2009-2013 and a member of SAF’s Board of Directors from 2013-2016. Ingrum is currently a retail board member with the Texas State Floral Association.
With Dr Delphinium Designs, Ingrum stays involved in the local community by supporting many local charities. Each month the shop highlights a different charity by printing inserts included in all deliveries, which has been proven to be invaluable to bring awareness to their causes.
Jennifer Thomasson, AAF, AIFD, EMC, PFCI
Jennifer Thomasson has a passion for pushing the boundaries of American floristry, trendsetting and promoting the art-form in a fresh way. She is the author of Perishable Poetics, released August 2020, which is an invitation to expand and liberate your authentic voice in floral design.
Through her dedicated process of becoming an accredited member of AIFD, PFCI and EMC her love of education and creative experimentation has lead her to inspire other designers and artists in her field. This pursuit has given her the opportunities to teach and study throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia and lead a design institute in Dallas, Texas.
By Stephanie Brady
This article was originally published in the Society of American Florists.