Feature Designer, Featured Floral School, Floral Companies, Floral Education Month

Parkland College ~ Trisha Locke, AIFD, CFD, ICPF


As an accredited AIFD member, Floral Educator at Parkland College and an Artist In Resident at the University of Illinois, you can be sure that you have seen Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF at some point teaching, judging or guiding students in the industry. Through her love of spreading floral education Trisha has lead many students to successful careers in the industry. Trisha is a strong supporter of the Illinois State Floral Association and their Illinois Certified Profession Florist program.

You can find all the contact information for Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF and Parkland College at the bottom of the article.


Photo Property of Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF

Photo Property of Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF

How much support do you receive from the University of Illinois for your SAIFD group?

The University supports our chapter in numerous ways. The University allows us to hold fundraisers on campus such as silent auctions, floral competitions, and flower sales. The University also allows us use its facilities for chapter meetings and other events at no cost. In some cases, student fees can be used to help to support activities of the chapter.

What advice do you have for designers looking to find proper floral education?

It depends on where the person is in their career path and what type of education they are looking for. If they are exploring career options while they are in college and want a college degree, I usually suggest taking a beginning floral design class to see if they enjoy it. Taking a class like that also gives them an opportunity to develop basic design skills and knowledge. However, obtaining a college degree can mean taking other classes that are not directly related to floral design and that path can be significantly more expensive. If a designer is already working in the field and is looking to advance their skills and floral knowledge, a targeted certification program through a Florist Association or a floral school can be a great option. Classes offered by those organizations are often very hands-on and help develop design skills and practical knowledge. This route also gives a person a chance to meet people in the industry and learn from the experiences of a variety of designers and floral professionals. If a designer is looking to be a leader in education, I would recommend a path to becoming an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers’ (AIFD).

What has been one of the most interesting floral topics you have taught so far in your career?

Sympathy designs. It can be a hard topic to discuss because people often don’t want to think about death. I prefer to present the topic as a “Celebration of Life”. Students seem to embrace it more. I have the students work together on a group sympathy project. They have to come up with an overall theme for their mock tribute, which includes selecting a color scheme and hobbies/interest of the person being honored. The final step is to create a design that is tailored to the deceased. The students always amaze me with their designs. They get creative with the items they choose to include, as well. I have seen baseballs, horseshoes, fireman boots/hat, soldiers’ metals and family portraits just to name a few.

Photo Property of Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF

Photo Property of Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF

In your personal opinion what are some of the shortcomings in floral education that the industry should strive towards working on?

Some of the shortcomings come from our attitudes about educating ourselves. We tend to be too busy to take a class or we don’t want to spend the money. I personally would like to see designers invest more in themselves and embrace the attitude that education is a lifelong process. Each time we take educational opportunities, we will not only continue to build strong bonds within the floral community, but we will inspire each other to become better designers. In every class that I’ve taken, I’ve learned something useful, even when I’ve taken multiple classes from the same instructor. You can also learn a lot during a class by networking and sharing information with other attendees. I have especially seen this while participating in the Illinois State Florist’s Association (ISFA) Bootcamps.

How important do you find floral contests and conferences for students advancement in floral education?

It has been huge for my students. I have taken students to the ISFA conference almost every year since I started teaching eight years ago. I think your first conference is the most memorable. Students usually haven’t seen anything like it; the vendors, the stage shows, the design styles, the types of flowers, and the incredibly artistic creations by talented designers. Students can be intimidated by participating and competing, but is it a great experience in their development and afterward they really feel a sense of accomplishment. A conference experience is not something you can teach in a classroom.

With our ever-changing industry, where do you see floral education heading in the next 5-10 years?

There will always be a need for the tried and true methods. A commitment to consistent execution of design fundamentals will always be important. The internet will continue to be a place for designers to get information and be inspired, but I would like to see a continued commitment to hands-on classes and mentoring. There is something special about getting design instruction in person and getting individualized feedback on your work and new techniques.

Photo Property of Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF

Photo Property of Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF

With university level floral education, where do see most students focusing their future career goals?

Floriculture was historically the major of floral designers, but many of those programs are no longer offered as a major. It seems that the universities are also reducing their horticultural program offerings and so students tend to focus on other areas of study including sustainable farming, agricultural education, hospitality, event planning, plant breeding, plant biology, botany, landscape design or business. Those are areas of study that have been available to students that have transferred from Parkland College (a 2-year school) to a 4-year institution.

Do you have a philosophy when it comes to floral education?

Strive to do your best. Not all students studying floral design are going to be professional florists, but I expect them to expand their horizons by trying something new, and I hope they enjoy working on projects and the end results. I also remind them, that I am giving them the knowledge, but they need to practice to keep improving. For example, making bows out of ribbon seems to be one of the most fundamental skills, but has to be practiced many times to get it right!

What do you think are some of the top floral educational advancements that have helped progress the industry?

I think the best is that education is available in many different ways and at any time of the day, which helps designers become better and stay on top of what is happening in the industry. There is a great opportunity with webinars and other online learning to expand designers’ skills. Magazines have added education articles in their monthly issues. Product companies have videos and mini magazines to show how to use their new products.

Photo Property of Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF

Photo Property of Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF

What would you say are the top 3 most important skills or bits of floral knowledge to instill in future designers through floral education?

1. Mechanics. Great mechanics are the hallmark of professionals.

2. Challenge yourself, never stop learning. Take a class and try new things, even if you don’t think it’s something you would normally do. Take the ideas presented and make it into something you can use.

3. Love what you do, but don’t give it away. Make sure the lovely designs that you enjoy making also pay the bills. Charge enough for your time and materials!

Trisha Locke AIFD, CFD, ICPF

Website: www.lockefloral.com
Email: info@lockefloral.com 
Phone: (217) 840-3866

Parkland College

Website: www.parkland.edu
Email: admissions@parkland.edu
Phone: (888) 467-6065

Thank you again to Trisha for taking the time to share with us more on floral education.

Join us on Wednesday as we bring you Doug Bates and his amazing wire working techniques!

Be Here On Wednesday,



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