The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Organization intersects floral design, philanthropy

Photo by Photo by Ana Sevilla
The Student American Institute of Floral Designers of A&M

White orchids blanket a table top and a variety of other types of flowers line the room, ready to be arranged into signature maroon and white floral designs that may be sent to a veteran, a nursing home or even placed in the A&M president’s suite in Kyle Field.
For the past 35 years, Texas A&M’s chapter of the Student American Institute of Floral Designers, SAIFD, has created designs for school-related events like the President’s Endowed Scholarship Banquet, the Alumni Gala, the Agriculture and Life Sciences Banquet and, as of last year, the president’s suite at every home football game. 
Celeste Winfield, horticulture senior and president of Texas A&M’s chapter of SAIFD, said the design of the arrangements are envisioned by William McKinley, a senior lecturer for floral design courses and the Endowed Chair of the Benz Floral Design School. Once William comes up with the concepts for the designs, members of SAIFD arrange the flowers.
Winfield said the club designed arrangements for Kyle Field suites until the tradition discontinued. However, A&M President Michael Young approached William before the Fall of 2015 and proposed the reinstatement of the tradition, Winfield said. 
“[Young] likes white orchids,” Winfield said. “We keep them and maintain them until it’s time to go on Friday we’re going to go and decorate his box.” 
McKinley’s wife and former business partner, Nicole McKinley, Class of 1981, said Young’s preference for flowers makes designing easier.
“He likes white orchids and succulents,” Nicole said. “So it’s exciting to have a president who has an interest and preference for flowers rather than just, ‘Oh, whatever.’ It’s so much easier to work with clientele when they have already some ideas of what they’d like.”
In addition to the president’s suite, SAIFD also arranges designs for the chancellor’s suite, the Board of Regents’ suite and the Texas A&M Foundation’s suite. Open to all students, SAIFD connects individuals to a learning environment with instruction on floral design basics taught by SAIFD members, Nicole said. 
As one of only 13 chapters across the nation, Texas A&M’s chapter of the pre-professional organization encourages club members to register with SAIFD to compete in the annual American Institute of Floral Designers Symposium. Winfield said while members can compete, the vast majority of the competition is a learning experience with professional florists and presentations.
“One woman actually does paper flowers and has a studio in Houston,” Winfield said. “Different people told their different stories, and their backgrounds, and how they got to do floral design and how they got into the business.”
The organization also donates leftover flowers to nursing homes in the Bryan-College Station area through the Blooms Over Brazos program, Winfield said.
“This is, in fact, modeled after something that they do at AIFD,” Nicole said. “At the end of the 10-day symposium, all of these monstrous designs are broken down and they re-use the flowers and they [are taken] out to veterans, nursing homes, schools and all sorts of philanthropic places.”
After working with SAIFD for the last two semesters, Shannon Chambers, horticulture sophomore and SAIFD secretary, said she’s enjoyed the experiences she’s had.
“I have a lot of fun and I feel like I’m good at it,” Chambers said. “Every meeting I can say has been fun. I love the people, everyone is very nice and welcoming, and ever since I came to this I was hooked and I stayed ever since.” 
Students interested in SAIFD can attend weekly meetings at 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays in room 105 of the Horticulture Forest Science Building. 

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