In July 2018, FFA members had their first opportunity to attend the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) National Symposium in Washington, D.C. The symposium is one of the largest events in the floral industry and is widely considered the most important floral design education event in the world.
Former FFA member Randy Wooten, who owns Delorice’s Florist in Douglas, Ga., is passionate about sharing floriculture education with young people. He was instrumental in creating this opportunity and worked with Kim Oldis, former AIFD president, to get the ball rolling. Oldis helped make it possible for four teams comprising four FFA members, all of whom previously participated in Floriculture career development events (CDE) at the National FFA Convention & Expo, to obtain scholarships to attend the symposium for four days.
FFA members learn more about opportunities available in floriculture at the 2018 American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) National Symposium.
“FFA members applied for these scholarships, and an AIFD committee reviewed them and chose the winners based on a scoring system,” Wooten says. “Once the winners and their advisors arrived in Washington, D.C., FFA members had opportunities to take guided tours of the convention center [in which the symposium was held] and get a behind-the-scenes look at the design and preparatory work that goes into such an event. They also got to attend three hands-on workshops with industry professionals, create their own floral designs and take a field trip to tour a wholesale floral supplier’s facility. Plus, they attended the symposium’s Awards and Induction Dinner, where they met some of the world’s top floral designers.”
Most importantly, FFA members were exposed to the wide variety of careers available in the floriculture industry, which is exactly what Wooten says he had in mind when he helped make this unique opportunity a reality.
Due to the first year’s strong success, plans are already in the works for FFA members to attend forthcoming AIFD National Symposiums. That’s great news for those who foresee a future in floriculture.
“Attending the AFID National Symposium gave me the opportunity to learn more about the floral industry than I ever thought possible,” says Nick Newlin, who attended the event as a member of the Southern Alamance FFA in North Carolina and placed first as an individual in floriculture at the 2018 National FFA Convention & Expo. “I learned new floral skills by observing professionals and through hands-on practice, and I met many talented individuals from across the globe, which allowed me to see all of the opportunities available to us in the floral industry.”
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