PFDE Testing

Post Written By: Joanna Kalina, IMF, CFD

Pardon me as I get into writing a more personal post! Most of your know me as the nameless person behind these blog posts. But today, you get to see a little bit of what I’ve been preparing for in the past year and learn more about me!

One of the many things on my bucket list was to test and become AIFD certified. About this time last year, I decided that it was my year to start to prepare to test. It was a great, hard, wonderful and exhilarating experience all rolled into one – and time consuming. But as you all know, goals come with a price and sacrifice.

I studied and studied, practiced designing and using some of the different techniques and greenery manipulation. And then I took the Online part of the test, only to fail it. If you’re anything like me, knowledge testing is hard for me. It’s not that I don’t know the answers or even that I didn’t study. No, my brain just sort of psychs itself out and I start double and triple guessing myself and the answers. It’s great (NOT)! But, honestly – it’s okay! I’ve realized that it’s okay to know that knowledge testing is not one of my strong suits, but that it doesn’t exclude me from getting back up and trying again until I succeed! Does this sound familiar to anyone? Anyone else out there? Anyway, I finally got it on my 3rd try!

Kelsey Thompson, AIFD was my Mentor, as she poured over design pictures that I sent her, instructed me and set up a mock test for me to truly see what the real design test would be like. Thank you Kelsey – You were amazing!

Sandy Schroeck, AIFD also set up another mock test for me and answered a whole list of pre-test questions and gave good constructive criticism after the mock test. Thanks Sandy!

Flying into Las Vegas – stunning!
Out walking around at night – isn’t the view amazing!

Fast forward to July 3rd, I flew to Vegas all by my lonesome, stayed with a dear friend and got to look around Vegas a bit during the day time! Saw the Miracle Mile, Bellagio Fountain and Hotel. Met up with a few new friends that I knew were taking the PFDE test with me and we met at the Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant near the Paris Hotel for dinner (a.k.a. a salad, because our stomachs wouldn’t handle anything else).

On July 4th, check-in was at 10 am, after checking in I forced myself to see a sandwich, and waiting until 1pm for orientation. My new friends Melanie and Linda were kind enough to let me leave my personal belongings in their hotel room during the test.

All 150 students met in a bit conference room at the hotel, where we were greeted, able to ask questions and given our list of supplies and what we were to make when we were able to actually take the design test and start sketching with the pen and paper that we were given upon our entrance to the room.

About 2 pm, we all took a bathroom break, all the AIFD members were lining the pathway on both sides all the way to the actual design room clapping as we walked to the room. It was really sweet. The women in front of me was crying out of excitement and anticipation and probably some exhaustion. Some other students and their mentors were high-fiving.

We walked into the room where our tools were checked over and we were instructed to find our table number. Once everyone found their table, we were allowed to start checking in all our product and supplies, unwrap and organize everything – but we couldn’t start designing until 3pm.

At 3pm, we were told to START! It was finally here, this was the moment I had been waiting, planning, saving and preparing for, for a year. Crazy! I was so ready and petrified all in the same breath! IT WAS TIME!

There was a point where I forgot everything that I knew to do. I couldn’t even remember what colors went together. This happened I was making my casket spray – one of the pieces that I most enjoy making and I’m good at ( I make a LOT of them). Thankfully with a desperate uttered prayer, small pieces started coming back to me, and I somehow managed to get done with all 5 of my pieces done, my table cleared and set up with a little bit time to spare to look over everything and fine-tune each piece and make sure that I had all the Principles and Elements in each.

My whole table display. Thank you Linda for taking all the pictures for me.
Casket Spray featuring flower groupings.

For about 3 weeks, I fretted about whether I passed the design test or not.I frequently checked and rechecked my email to see if there was any new news, just to get scared and not want to check it, but end up checking it anyway, lol!! The answer finally came Friday, July 19, 2019. I PASSED! I PASSED! I PASSED! I’m invited to be inducted as a certified AIFD designer July 2020!

Here’s a few of the wonderful people from Canada that I met and had the pleasure of testing with! Linda Rambaud, CFD and Melanie CFD! So proud of you both!

My point in writing this long and over-due post, is to encourage you – wherever you are to go out there and set your goals and pursue them. They aren’t going to land into your lap with out your effort. It takes hard work and dedication. And sometimes, quite a few failures along the way, lol!

Thanks for reading!

Joanna Kalina, IMF, CFD

ICF Wedding Design Class

The Iowa Florists’ Association’s Wedding Class went off without a hitch on July 14, 2019 at The Flower Shop at Cedar Park in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. All the flowers were supplied by BIll Doran’s in Waterloo and the supplies were from Bonnett’s Wholesale in Milan, IL.

Seven eager Students joined the IFA’s three instructors as they construced their own Bridal Bouquet in a holder, a unique boutonniere and a corsage! They rocked it all!

The Flower Shop’s Manager, Nancy Meckel instructs and gives tips on consultations, contracts, ordering, proper business tactics, etc.

– The Flower Shop at Cedar Memorial Park for hosting the class and letting us use the wonderful space!
– Nancy Meckel, Fran Newsom and Joanna Kalina for instructing and sharing your expertise.
– BIll Doran – Waterloo for all the gorgeous flowers that you supplied us with – they were amazing. We so appreciate you and your support.
– Bonnett’s Wholesale – for the handy supplies. Thank you so much!
– Thank you to Cameron Daffinrud, Mary, Daughtery, Tonia Benson, Christy McEldoon, Cathy Schmitz, Alex Benson and Lisa Davis for sharing your weekend with the IFA, and coming to learn and grow in this wonderful industry!

We know you’re busy too!

This will be a short blog post, so please read all the way through!

We know that each and every one of you are busy, and your schedule may not leave much time for reading a newsletter all the way through to gain all the wonderful new and updated information that’s being presented! So to save you and the IFA Board some time and still get good concrete information, updates, articles and photos in front of your eyes, we are switching to a frequently updated on-line blog for the majority of the year, and for bigger occasions, we will blog and send a physical invitation to your doorstep!

Sound good? Yes!? Good!

If you have questions, please shoot them our way through our easy “contact us” form or email always works too at

Summer Slow Down

Post Written By Educational Director/Board Member: Kelsey Thompson

Summer Slow Down 

For traditional retail florists, summertime is generally a bit of a slower time of the year. Yes, we have weddings (and funerals are a year round business), but the harried rush of the Christmas season or the month of May has transitioned to a slower pace. Our shop averages 5 or less deliveries a day in the summer months (not counting funeral days) so we have to get a little creative to keep ourselves busy! 

Self Care 

This has become more important to me the longer I’m in retail, especially in the life stage I’m in. My kids are preschool and early elementary aged and are changing every day. Taking some extra time in the summer to take them to the pool or have a day date with them has been a real blessing! Even if you don’t have young children, this is a great chance to make sure you are “filling your own cup.” Take a vacation (or stay-cation!), get a massage, go out for lunch with your girlfriends, or just take a nap. Even if you’re a one person show, don’t feel guilty about closing your shop for a 3 day weekend. You will be a much better person, boss and designer if you take a few days to refresh your body and mind, and your customers can live for a day or two without you. Yes, this can be a hard hurdle to cross the first time, but it’s sooooo worth it 🙂 If you’re the boss, make sure you encourage your employees to take vacation or treat them to a random half-day off. 

Maintenance (Building/Equipment) 

Whether you own your space or not, odds are there are a few things that could use sprucing up! We have a little honey-do list that we add to throughout the year as things pop up. Most things don’t get done until June rolls around. Touching up paint on the walls makes a huge difference, as does a good deep clean. Plus Murphy’s law says that the second you start moving your displays and creating a mess so you can clean, you’ll have a line of customers walking through the chaos to the front counter 😉 

Slow weeks also give you opportunity to make any needed equipment changes or upgrades. Could you be more efficient with a different Point of Sale, or do you need a new shop camera to take better website photos? I’ve been “trimming the fat” this month by doing price comparisons on credit card processors, website providers and other vendors I utilize and re-evaluating any monthly subscriptions. It’s not the most fun part of my job, but I know all the little things add up.  


I cannot stress the importance of continuing education in this industry enough. For me, this goes hand in hand with self care because I LOVE to learn and go to classes, as well as teach them. Even if you’re not a flower nerd like me, keeping up to date on new techniques or products is what is going to set you apart from your competitors. Not only do I find attending classes to be inspiring, I always meet awesome fellow florists and come away with some money saving tips and tricks. Of course I’d recommend the IFA classes for local options; I’d also suggest checking with your wholesalers or following florists you admire on Instagram – many of them advertise classes they are a part of. I am AIFD and the annual symposium is a wealth of knowledge (and will be in Chicago in 2020 so super close!)   


How can you promote yourself in different ways? Or improve upon the channels you already use? If you are not on social media, especially Instagram, pay a high school or college girl $20 and get yourself a tutorial. It’s free and once you learn what the icons mean, quite easy. We hired local girls to do Instagram takeovers during prom season but that concept could easily be applied over the summer months. They think it’s fun and easy cash and you get a millenial writing your content…. win-win! You can pre-plan and schedule social media posts way ahead of time too – Hootsuite is one example of an app that allows you to manage a lot of platforms and write content now so you don’t have to worry about it later. 

Search out ways to cross-promote with other local businesses. My goal is to be a very supportive small business owner in my community. I shop my own downtown as much as possible. This seems overly simple but it’s all too easy to just order online (and yes I am guilty of that a lot too) especially during busy seasons when you barely have time for a bathroom break! I have the extra time to visit my fellow retailers in the summer, so I make a point to do it. We’ve done cross-promotions with a hair salon, clothing store, coffee/chocolate shop, local printer, the local food pantry, other gift stores, etc. Everyone has a strength – find yours and feature it in another business (while giving them the chance to do the same). Customers love to see good will amongst small business owners. 

Display building/planning

Do you have a floor plan for your space? I find it so helpful to be able to visualize the space as a whole and plan ahead. Every time we move things around, we see a small up-tick in sales. We may have had those vases for 4 years, but by golly we moved it over by the jewelry and all of a sudden we can’t keep them in stock! I’m not saying rearrange your retail floor every month, but making small tweaks or even flip-flopping your candle display with your card display keeps things fresh. My super helpful father built me double sided free standing display walls that we can scoot around and create little corners and designated display areas and they have been very helpful in visually separating our product. Next month we will be building some Christmas displays and spray painting Christmas trees. Even if you’re not a handy-man, jotting down some goals or cruising Pinterest for some fun ideas is time well spent.  

Display Wall at Kelsey Thompson’s beautiful shop – Bloom Floral in Algona Iowa

Holiday work-ahead 

Speaking of Christmas, summer is the perfect time to make holiday displays and silks. As your holiday inventory arrives, organize by color or what vignette it will be going in. Then you can premake permanent botanical pieces – we shoot for a wreath, swag, garland, and three different sizes of silk centerpieces to go with each “look”. You know what sells in your store, so make a boatload of them, seal them well in a tote and pack them away for a few months. You’ll be super happy when you are stressed in November and you can pull from your magical tote of pre-mades 🙂 We also use this time to sort through any leftovers from last holiday and either use them up in the pre-made party or put them on our annual “Christmas in July” sale. Put a 70% off sticker on those ornaments and get rid of those suckers! 

What do you do at your store in the summer to keep busy or plan ahead? Any tips to share with our readers? 

P’s & E’s Design Class

The whole crew! Great job! Mary, Sheryl, Stephanie, Bonnie, Josh, Cathy, Joanna and Alex
Photo Credit: Kelsey Thompson
So many fun and colorful designs all focusing on the Principles and Elements of Design! You can have tons of fun, all the while incorporating the P’s and E’s in every design!

Hand – tied Bridal Bouquets using a design egg to demonstrate a larger, more full look with out getting a too-compacted look and using less product!

Iowa State Horticulture Hall for the use of their wonderful space!

NASA’s ISS Experiment

The thought of exploring space conjures images of sci-fi movies and interesting encounters. 
It can be difficult for people to comprehend the truly earth-changing importance of what the
great folks at NASA and especially on the International Space Station are doing to forward
knowledge on a global scale! 

This particular experiment from the STEM project (Science,Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics)
is particularly important to food production AND Floral agriculture alike. Farmers are farmers, 
whether they produce food or flora, and will benefit from this very important project.

Doctors learn a lot about their patients’ health by taking their temperature. An elevated temperature, or fever, can be a sign of illness. The same goes for plants, but their temperatures on a global scale are harder to measure than the temperatures of individual people.

That’s about to change, thanks to a new NASA instrument that soon will be installed on the International Space Station called ECOSTRESS, or ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station. ECOSTRESS will measure the temperature of plants from space. This will enable researchers to determine plant water use and to study how drought conditions affect plant health.

Plants draw in water from the soil, and as they are heated by the Sun, the water is released through pores on the plants’ leaves through a process called transpiration. This cools the plant down, much as sweating does in humans. However, if there is not enough water available to the plants, they close their pores to conserve water, causing their temperatures to rise.

Plants use those same pores to take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthesis – the process they use to turn carbon dioxide and water into the sugar they use as food. If they continue to experience insufficient water availability, or “water stress,” they eventually starve or overheat, and die.

ECOSTRESS data will show these changes in plants’ temperatures, providing insight into their health and water use while there is still time for water managers to correct agricultural water imbalances.

“When a plant is so stressed that it turns brown, it’s often too late for it to recover,” said Simon Hook, ECOSTRESS principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “But measuring the temperature of the plant lets you see that a plant is stressed before it reaches that point.”

These temperature measurements are also considered an early indicator of potential droughts. When plants in a given area start showing signs of water stress through elevated temperature, an agricultural drought is likely underway. Having these data in advance gives the agricultural community a chance to prepare and/or respond accordingly.

“ECOSTRESS will allow us to monitor rapid changes in crop stress at the field level, enabling earlier and more accurate estimates of how yields will be impacted,” said Martha Anderson, an ECOSTRESS science team member with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland. “Even short-term moisture stress, if it occurs during a critical stage of crop growth, can significantly impact productivity.”

ECOSTRESS will hitch a ride to the space station on a NASA-contracted, SpaceX cargo resupply mission scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 29. Once it arrives, it will be robotically installed on the exterior of the station’s Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility Unit.

Over the next year, ECOSTRESS will use the space station’s unique low Earth orbit to collect data over multiple areas of land at different times of day. The instrument will produce detailed images of areas as small as 43 by 76 yards (40 by 70 meters) — about the size of a small farm — every three to five days.

Other instruments in space can make measurements with the same level of detail or at different times of day — but not both. ECOSTRESS’ dual capability makes it especially important for scientists trying to better understand our natural ecosystems and others working toward improved food security and water resource management.

“As water resources become more critical for our growing population, we need to track precisely how much water our crops need,” said ECOSTRESS science lead Josh Fisher of JPL. “We need to know when plants are becoming susceptible to droughts, and we need to know which parts of the ecosystem are more vulnerable because of water stress.”

Although not part of its primary mission, ECOSTRESS temperature data will also be valuable for other studies that require temperature information, such as detecting and characterizing volcanoes, wildfires and heat waves.

JPL built and manages the ECOSTRESS mission for NASA’s Earth Science Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. ECOSTRESS is sponsored by NASA’s Earth System Science Pathfinder program, managed by NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Introduction By Fran Newsom, IFA, IMF
Article by NASA
For more information on ECOSTRESS, visit:

Bridal Bouquet Contest

Where: Your own Shop or Studio

When: April 1st to April 30, 2019

Cost: FREE

Winner: The winner of this contest will receive a free 1-year Iowa Florists’ Association Membership and Social Media recognition!


1.Design a bridal bouquet of your choice in color, style and theme. Have fun and be creative. Keep in mind, the IFA board will judge your bouquet on the Principles & Elements of Design (scale, unity, balance, focal emphasis, line, depth and color).  No price, size or flower limits. Use your imagination!

2. Take at least 4 photos, 1 photo of every angle of the bouquet and email to All submissions must be made by  11:59pm, April 30, 2019

Grand Re-Branding Celebration

The Iowa Florists’ Association’s past President, Stephanie Connor celebrated the reopening of her Shop, Bates Flowers by Dzyne! Life finally slowed down for her and their wonderful team to host an Open House and reveal their new logo as well! It’s never to late for a celebration, right?

Bates Flowers by DZyne is the area’s ONLY full-service flower shop, exclusively staffing certified florists that have completed extensive floral arts schooling. Bates specializes in creating exceptionally beautiful wedding florals for your big day, at any budget. We also work closely with area funeral homes to ensure that your floral farewells are just what you had in mind for your loved one.
Bates has served the Grinnell, Iowa area since 1906, when it opened in the Bates Pharmacy across the street from our current location. Since it’s debut, we have proudly been an FTD member and have the ability to send fresh flowers and plants virtually anywhere in the world with just a few clicks on a computer. Check out our FTD website at to see FTD’s current specials and designs, and let us know what you’d like to send!

Bates Owner Stephanie Connor IMF (Iowa Master Florist) has completed her Masters in Floral Design and has served 2 terms as the President of the Iowa Florists’ Association. Connor is currently serving a term as Vice President of the National Alliance of Floral Associations, as the Director of Digital Education for the Iowa Florists’ Association , and as Past President of the Iowa Florists’ Association.

Please join the Iowa Florists’ Association in congratulating Stephanie in her on-going adventure as a Flower Shop Owner! Stephanie, we love you, we thank you for all of your hard work in our organization and we wish you nothing but health, happiness and flowers and more flowers!

Also, take a gander at Bates Flowers by Design’s Facebook page – it’s beautiful! Or better yet, go visit their Shop in lovely Grinnell!

These Hands

Post written by Education Director and Board Member Kelsey Thompson

My son recently asked me “Mom, why do your hands always hurt?” 
I explained that Mommy works with her hands all day making flowers, cutting wire and washing buckets, so they get sore and cracked and dry from working.
But it got me to thinking…

These hands have hugged brand new dads when they come in to grab flowers for their amazing wives.

These hands have cradled babies and entertained toddlers when I’ve delivered to a young mom’s house and she

These hands have held books up for children to see the pictures as I’ve read for classrooms, or demonstrated a flower technique for a local girl scout group.

These hands have clapped for area students as they do their best in sports, music, art and life.

These hands have written checks for donations and assembled gifts for auctions and gone high in the air during bidding wars at fundraising galas and community dinners.

These hands have decorated churches and homes and backyards and cars and benches and about anything else you can think of!

These hands have grasped the hands of countless beaming girls as they proudly show off their new engagement ring.

These hands text brides-to-be at all hours of the night, answering questions and easing anxieties.

These hands have pinned flowers to shaky grooms and patted emotional dads on the back and run random errands for stressed moms.

These hands have moved in a blur as they create a gift or bouquet for the husband or wife that maybe kinda forgot it was their spouses birthday or anniversary until 5:20 PM.

These hands have taken the garbage out, moved furniture and mailed letters for elderly recipients.

These hands have shoveled snow – the recipient was getting flowers because he had surgery and his hands sure couldn’t go outside and do it.

These hands and arms have given so many hugs to people receiving deliveries for so many reasons…news of a cancer diagnosis, the death of a child, passing their nursing boards, accepting a new job, etc. The sender can’t be there, but my flowers and my hands can.

These hands have held mugs of coffee and lemon bars or cookies as I just sit and chat with the lonely woman that I’m delivering to. All her family live out of town and she misses them, so these hands hold pictures of her great grandkids as she proudly tells me stories that she’s only heard over the phone or email.

These hands have held the hands of grieving families as they choose final tribute pieces for their loved ones.

These hands have carefully cleaned up gravesites and decorated them with respect and care.

These hands fold every night in prayer and thank God for my family, His blessings and the many opportunities He’s given these hands to “work” in our community.