Kish College students compete and learn at AIFD National Symposium
Three students from Kishwaukee College’s horticulture program put their floral design skills on display at the national level during the American Institute of Floral Design (AIFD) National Symposium, held in Las Vegas.
In July, Kish students and faculty attended the symposium with fellow floral designers, design instructors, and horticulture students from around the United States. Representing Kish were Christina Fisher, Jayna Masters and Paisley Dhesse, along with floral design instructor and AIFD chapter advisor Janet Gallagher. The students received financial support through the Kishwaukee College Foundation to cover travel expenses for the event.
“It was quite an experience to see the creativity and uniqueness the professional designers use,” Fisher said. “Between the presentations, seminars, competitions and receptions, it was a packed schedule. There was a lot to do, a lot to see and a lot to learn.”
The students spent the majority of the week exploring the different opportunities the horticulture field offers.
“We got to learn so much and meet so many different people,” Dhesse said. “It really showed us how many different careers you can get into in floral. The number of opportunities is unbelievable.”
Along with the instructional aspects of the symposium, the Kish students also got to make floral arrangements for competition in four categories — wedding, sympathy, flowers to wear and interpretive design. Kish was one of eight colleges competing and placed third overall and second in the wedding category. Individually, the students placed 10th, 11th and 12th overall.
The students credited Gallagher and Kish’s floral design program for getting them ready for competition.
“Janet did a great job preparing us for the unknown,” Fisher said. “She was very good about bringing in different types of flowers and greenery for practice. We had the opportunity to be creative with a variety of things and having that time to practice was very important to get more experience.”
Gallagher and the Kish horticulture program work to help students discover different career opportunities through hands-on training and real-world applications. All three students in this year’s competition are in their first year of Kish’s horticulture program and will have the opportunity to attend next year’s symposium in Chicago.
“It was an amazing experience — it’s indescribable. You have to be there to even remotely understand,” Dhesse said. “I already know I’m going next year.”
Along with floral design, Kish’s horticulture program allows students to study greenhouse and garden centers, landscape design and construction, cannabis and hemp cultivation, and more. For more information on floral design and horticulture at Kish, visit www.kish.edu/horticulture.
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