Who is eligible?
To compete in the annual National AIFD® Student Competition, one must be a novice member of an active Student AIFD Chapter.  The student must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher, and have completed 15 semester units or 22 quarter units. They may not have worked full time in a retail/wholesale florist as a designer for more than two (2) years, or part time for more than three (3) years. A maximum of 8 students from any chapter may compete. At the 2014 competition, there were over 50 students from 13 chapters.

What is the purpose of the competition?
The competition helps to give the students a tangible use for the floral design skills they are developing in class. The Principles and Elements of design can seem esoteric to some students until they realize that those concepts are what the evaluators will use to judge their entries. The competition can give instructors a tool for motivating students to learn, because they have a specific and real goal. The competition encourages creativity, resourcefulness and focus while giving real-life experience in a high pressure situation. It also gives the AIFD student members an experience which is similar to the process they will encounter when they try for certification by AIFD or membership in the Institute. The timing, materials and rules of the competition are in some ways similar to the process that florists are subjected to in their steps to certification.

What do the judges look for when judging the floral arrangements?
The judging is technical, with points given for the methodological use of color, depth, line, balance, focal emphasis, unity and proportion. Points are also awarded for flawless mechanics (neatness, hiding of support systems, technical prowess), appropriate interpretation for the category, as well as creativity. Judges strive to set aside subjective opinions about the designs, and will give high points for a well-executed design that may not be to their personal taste.

Generally, what is the most challenging part of the competition?
For many of the competitors, this is their first foray into designing under competition pressure, with a limited amount of design time and specific restrictions on what they are to make. They do not know what floral materials or containers they will encounter when they walk into the competition space. Every year, competitors are disqualified in a design category for exceeding the size limitations, or not having their piece on the judging table when time is called. They may not have access to all the tools they are accustomed to using in class, and may encounter flower varieties they have never used before.

What are the student competitors require to make?
Competitors make four designs, specified by the Committee, with materials they have not seen until they enter the competition venue. They have one hour for each category, with the exception of the Body Flowers Design, which takes place in a 45 minute session. A) The Sympathy Design category asks for a tribute designed to fit within specific and limited space. B) For the Wedding Bouquet Design category, the specifics of the person who will carry the bouquet are described. Competitors have the option to use the floral foam bridal bouquet holder which will be provided among supplies, or to bind the flowers using any other appropriate bouquet technique. C) The Arrangement category is for an art gallery opening. D) In the Body Flowers Design, the competitors are asked to design flowers to be worn by a specified person.

When and where will the next competition take place?
The 2017 Competition will take place Saturday, July 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington as part of the 2017 AIFD Symposium.

How do I sign up?
Contact your chapter advisor, who will give you a competition registration form, rules, category information, tool list, and information about registering for Symposium. Competition and Symposium fees are sent to the AIFD home office. Competition registration and transcripts are sent to the Competition Committee Chair. Note that all forms for a chapter are sent together in one packet, not by individual students.  Student rates are offered, subject to a commitment to volunteer during Symposium.

Specific questions can be sent to the chair of the Student Competition Committee, Kevin Coble AIFD, CFD at kcoblelefleur@aol.com or the national board liaison to the Committee, Robyn Arnold AIFD, CFD flowergirl091764@aol.com.

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