American Academy of Floriculture honors 10 new members at SAF Convention Awards Celebration

Posted On 25 Sep 2012
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ALEXANDRIA, USA, September 25, 2012: The American Academy of Floriculture named ten deserving industry members to its ranks this year in recognition of their deep dedication to volunteer service in their local communities and the floral industry.

The Academy’s stringent requirements make “AAF an achievement recognized throughout the floral industry,” said SAF Awards Committee member Rod Saline at the induction ceremony on Sept. 22 during SAF’s 128th Annual Convention in Palm Beach.
The 2012 AAF Inductees are:
Robert Aykens, AAF, of Memorial Florists & Greenhouses in Appleton, Wisc.
Bitsy Carter, AAF, of Hope Floral, Inc. in Hope, Ark.
Alex Jackson, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of Phoenix Flower Shops in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Michelle Castellano Keeler, AAF, of Mellano & Company in Oceanside, Calif.
Jacob H. McCall, AAF, AIFD, CFD, FSMD, of The Elite Flower in Miami, Fla.
Dr. Marvin N. Miller, AAF, of Ball Horticultural Company in West Chicago, Ill.
Rutland “Skip” Paal Jr., AAF, of Rutland-Beard Floral Group, Inc. in Baltimore, MD
Fiona Prosser, AAF, of Botanica International Florist in Tampa, Fla.
Shelby Shy, AAF, of Shirley’s Flowers and Gifts, Inc. in Rogers, Ark.
Lisa Weddel, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of L Weddell Design in Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Robert Aykens, AAF
Bob Aykens’ has contributed considerable time and energy to the floral industry since joining Memorial Florists & Greenhouses, his 89-year-old family business, a decade ago. Currently a member of the SAF Retailers Council and Business and Economic Trends Committee, Aykens spent six years on SAF’s Technology Committee, including two as its chairman. During that time he helped SAF explore and educate floral business owners about the practical application of changing technologies.
Regionally, he is active with Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Florist Association and Commercial Flower Growers of Wisconsin. At home, Aykens has helped promote organizations throughout the Fox River Valley, including the advocacy group Friends of the Fox, Fox Valley Technical College and the city of Neenah, Wis. He was an industry ambassador for the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce for three years.

Bitsy Carter, AAF
Giving back is important to the owner of Hope Floral, Inc. Bitsy Carter is a powerhouse fundraiser whose vision and leadership have generated more $100,000 for local community projects and scholarships. She also helped revitalize her hometown’s shopping district. A past president of her chamber of commerce, Carter earned top honors as its most committed volunteer for nine years.
She is also a past-president of the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council and has contributed her musical talent to hundreds of community functions. Carter is equally engaged in service to her industry as a member of the Arkansas Floral Association board of directors and its education committee.

Alex Jackson, AAF, AIFD, PFCI
Alex Jackson, retail operations manager for Phoenix Flower Shops, is a passionate advocate for great design and the expertise of professional florists. He is president of the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) Southwest Region and often presents workshops at AIFD programs and other industry events. Jackson also is an active community volunteer who readily contributes time and expertise to local schools and arts organizations.
His signature designs have been featured at the Academy Awards and in Teleflora’s Flowers& magazine; and he became a Teleflora educational specialist this year. In 2009, Jackson was honored as Designer of the Year by Arizona State Florists Association and at the Southwest Flower Show.

Michelle Castellano Keeler, AAF
As corporate vice president of her family’s 87-year-old growing operation, Michelle Castellano Keeler is the face of Mellano & Company at industry events. A dedicated volunteer leader and current member of the SAF Board of Directors, Keeler has served on many SAF committees, the Growers Council as a vocal legislative activist at home and on Capitol Hill.
She is also a member of the California Cut Flower Commission and the Wholesale Florist and Florist Supplier Association. Locally, Keeler supports the Make a Wish Foundation and is active with the Chamber of Commerce, Farm Bureau and University of San Diego’s Small Business Forum.

Jacob H. McCall, AAF, AIFD, CFD, FSMD
The director of design and marketing at The Elite Flower is an enthusiastic educator and familiar speaker at the AIFD Symposium and other industry events. Jacob McCall is known for cutting-edge designs and color expertise, as well as his down home Southern charm. He has accrued many accolades in his 17-year career.
McCall is a two-time winner of the International Floriculture Expo’s Iron Designer competition and placed second in the prestigious Americas Cup of Floral Design, where he represented the United States against designers from nine countries. McCall is also a dedicated volunteer with the Human Rights Campaign and the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.

Dr. Marvin N. Miller, AAF
For more than 30 years, Dr. Marvin Miller has brought vital market insight to floral suppliers, growers, wholesalers and retailers. The marketing director for Ball Horticultural Company is a “numbers man” with an abiding sense of service and deep enthusiasm for the floral industry. He serves on the boards of the American Floral Endowment, Seeley Conference, OFA and America in Bloom. Miller has been an active SAF volunteer leader for 25 years and currently serves on the Government Relations Committee.
Miller also served for ten years on the SAF/USDA/OFA New Crops Advisory Committee. The SAF Paul Ecke Jr. Award and President’s Award are just two of many honors Miller has received. At home, Miller is the cantor of Temple B’Nai Israel and has served his neighbors for many years as the homeowners’ association president, and on its board of directors and landscaping committee.

Rutland “Skip” Paal Jr., AAF
It took just ten years for Skip Paal, a fourth generation floral business owner, to expand from a single retail shop to a multi-state trade with import, wholesale and retail operations. Today, he willingly shares the best practices that made Rutland Beard Floral Group, Inc., a success through presentations at industry events and a monthly column in Floriology magazine.
Paal serves on the SAF Technology Committee and Florist Buying Club’s advisory board and is a member of Chesapeake Floral Association and the BloomNet Industry Leadership Council. A volunteer firefighter since 1998, Paal has been cited for outstanding service by the Maryland State Senate five times and in 2011 was honored by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Fiona Prosser, AAF
Fiona Prosser, president of Botanica International Florist has worked side-by-side with husband Ian for more than 20 years building their company into an event décor and design business renowned for excellence in the U.S. and abroad. Through it all, she has championed the industry, helped educate other business owners and become a role model admired for her business acumen, work ethic, generosity and kindness.
Prosser is a past-president of Florida’s West Coast Florist Association and an active volunteer leader for the Florida State Florists’ Association. The South Tampa Chamber of Commerce honored her as Businesswoman of the Year in 1996. Prosser’s extensive civic involvement includes the Tampa Museum of Art, Henry B. Plant Museum, and Children’s Cancer Center.

Shelby Shy, AAF
A third-generation florist, Shelby Shy, is the co-owner of Shirley’s Flowers and Gifts, Inc., where she is responsible for marketing and wedding services. She shares that expertise through industry magazines, including Floral Management, and at state and national meetings. She is also a top contributor to SAF’s blog, Flower Factor.
Shy has served on SAF’s Consumer Marketing Committee and as a board member for the Arkansas State Floral Association. She is also active with other regional and local industry groups. Locally, she serves on many fundraising boards for the American Heart Association, St. Mary’s Regional Hospital, Boys and Girls Club and many other organizations.

Lisa Weddel, AAF, AIFD, PFCI
Lisa Weddell has been a dedicated industry volunteer for more than 30 years. The owner of L Weddell Design is a PFCI Trustee and board member for AIFD’s South Central Region, a past-president of the Society of Iowa Florists and an active volunteer with the Floral Association of the Rockies. Locally, Weddel has participated in Blooms Over Denver, presented floral educational programs to the Future Farmers of America, and is a regular volunteer and frequent guest speaker on floral topics at her children’s schools.
Weddel’s creations have been featured by Architectural Digest and Floriology magazine. Her work at the Tournament of Roses has earned multiple honors, and she was also a winner of the Iowa Association’s Designer of the Year.

2012 AAF Inductees (from left): Lisa Weddel, AAF, AIFD, PFCI; Shelby Shy, AAF; Fiona Prosser, AAF; Rutland “Skip” Paal Jr., AAF; Jacob McCall, AAF, AIFD, CFD, FSMD; Michelle Castellano Keeler, AAF; Alex Jackson, AAF, AIFD, PFCI; and Bitsy Carter, AAF. (Not shown: Robert Aykens, AAF and Dr. Marvin Miller, AAF.)

2012 AAF Inductees (from left):Bitsy Carter, AAF; Shelby Shy, AAF; Fiona Prosser, AAF; Rutland Paal Jr., AAF; Jacob McCall, AAF, AIFD, CFD, FSMD; Michelle Keeler, AAF; Alex Jackson, AAF, AIFD, PFCI; and Lisa Weddel, AAF, AIFD, PFCI. (Not shown: Robert Aykens, AAF and Dr. Marvin Miller, AAF).

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