Press Releases


CalFlowers Strengthens Scholarship Fund with AFE Donation

January 5, 2021 Fallbrook, CA  CalFlowers, the leading floral trade association in California serving growers and the entire supply chain in 48 states, announces the donation of $50,000 to the American Floral Endowment (AFE) in Alexandria, VA. The monetary gift is directed to fund the CalFlowers Scholarship administered by AFE.

“Supporting the efforts of the American Floral Endowment by continuing to fund the CalFlowers Scholarship is a worthy investment and a genuine measure of our commitment to nurture and sustain the floral industry,” says Steve Dionne, executive director of the Fallbrook, CA-based association. “With longevity in mind, this substantial gift is a recognized way to fuel one of our many endeavors -- to assure Floral has a sound future with top talent coming into the industry.”

Created for undergraduate students attending an accredited California college or university, or for California residents attending a U.S. university or accredited college, the CalFlowers Scholarship was initiated in 2018. To date, the donation amount from CalFlowers to AFE for the designated scholarship fund has reached $200,000.

“Receiving this kind of financial support garners immeasurable attention to the on-going AFE scholarship program. We’re especially pleased to administer the CalFlowers Scholarship along with 30 others because it means so much to the students, their families and the floral industry,” says Debi Chedester, AFE executive director. “The $50,000 donation should result in an annual yield of $8,000 – a rousing amount sure to be appreciated by future scholarship recipients.”

A primary function of AFE, awarding scholarships for floriculture and horticulture students occurs annually. Interested candidates can read scholarship descriptions and application deadline information at

On board as executive director since November 2, but a long-time member of CalFlowers, Dionne adds, “Deciding and acting to donate to the scholarship fund at this level represents a way for the current board of directors to implement a mechanism to power the perpetual quality of the fund.” The board, which is comprised of 13 CalFlowers members, is dedicated to addressing current industry issues while planning for the future. Dionne indicates the board members of CalFlowers have great vision and the association is planning many ventures to bolster and augment current campaigns endorsing the aspirational goal of -- More Americans enjoying more flowers more often.

To learn more about American Floral Endowment, please visit
Photo Courtesy of AFE



We’re excited to give you… ‘That Flower Feeling’!

Thursday, January 13
11:00 a.m. PST (2:00 p.m. EST)

CalFlowers will share, for your viewing pleasure, our exciting new consumer-direct brand and marketing campaign launch.  Everyone is invited to join!

CalFlowers is on a mission to ensure more Americans enjoying more flowers more often.  We have partnered with marketing agency 180 Amsterdam and media agency Designory to produce and execute a professional, funny, edgy, and very shareable marketing campaign that will launch nationally across numerous social media platforms, podcasts, and music streaming channels in January. 

Our goal in this ‘viewing party’ is not only to introduce you to our concept and marketing assets, but also to encourage you – and give you the tools – to leverage this campaign for the benefit of your own business and the industry at large.  We need all segments of the floriculture industry to help amplify the campaign through your own established marketing channels, and we will provide you the access to do so! 

We will walk you through the range of marketing assets and explain the full depth of the campaign which will include films and stills for social media platforms, host-read and voiceover ads on selected podcasts, a roster of social influencers, and point-of-sale items such as posters and truck wraps.  CalFlowers is proud to offer this full range to all industry participants, regardless of whether you are a CalFlowers member.

Give us 45 minutes of your time on January 13th, and help us bring this transformative, national marketing campaign to flower consumers across the country.  We look forward to seeing you!

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

To learn more about That Flower Feeling - connect with Steve Dionne by phone: (760) 213-3996 or email [email protected].  

Annual CalFlowers Scholarship Recipients
The CalFlowers Scholarship is for undergraduate students attending an accredited California college or university or an undergraduate California resident attending an accredited college or university elsewhere in the U.S.

California Polytechnic State University is the fourth recipient of the CalFlowers Scholarship - 2021

CalFlowers Scholarship — $6,400 Recipient: Kiara Benavides, California Polytechnic State University
Kiara Benavides (pictured left) is a senior at California Polytechnic State University, majoring in Agriculture Science with an Ornamental Horticulture emphasis and minoring in Agribusiness. Kiara is a leader in multiple organizations at her school. She clearly supports her goal of teaching floral design and ornamental horticulture in high school and being a Future Farmers of America career coach. While in school, Kiara works at Poly Plant Shop located at Cal Poly's Horticultural Unit. In this position, she produces custom floral pieces and arrangements for retail and sells custom bouquets and cut flowers at San Luis Obispo Farmers Markets. She is also employed as a field research assistant at the Cal Poly Strawberry Center that partnered with the California Strawberry Commission to increase the sustainability of the California Strawberry industry through research and education that addresses industry needs. Following graduation, Kiara plans to enroll in Cal Poly's Master of Agriculture Education program. Through this program, graduate students complete their master's degree, student teach, and receive their teaching credentials in one academic school year. “My absolute dream job is to become an Agriculture Teacher back home in the Central Valley. Teaching agriculture curriculum will allow me to teach floriculture courses,” said Kiara. “I aspire to introduce students to the industry and hopefully encourage some to pursue personal floriculture and horticulture endeavors!” The California Association of Flower Growers & Shippers (CalFlowers) was founded in 1941 by a small group of flower shipping companies to foster the success of the California floral industry. Today, CalFlowers is the leading floral trade association in California serving growers and the entire supply chain in CA and 47 other states across the country. The CalFlowers Scholarship is for undergraduate students attending an accredited California college or university or an undergraduate California resident attending an accredited college or university elsewhere in the United States.

Click Here to read the full press release from AFE and to see the full list of scholarship Recipients.


City College of San Francisco Student Is The Third Recipient of the CalFlowers Scholarship - 2020 

Nichole Davidson, (pictured left)a senior at City College of San Francisco, has been selected to receive the third annual CalFlowers Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded every year to an undergraduate student who demonstrates a commitment to working in the floriculture industry.

Nichole Davidson, expects to graduate in December, with an associate degree in Nursery and Garden-Center Operation and Commercial Cut Flower and Greenhouse Production.  Following graduation, Davidson will seek a career in greenhouse and nursery management.

For the past two summers, Davidson has interned in Italy at Cascina Borgofrancone in Colico, and at Villa Boccanegra in Ventimiglia. She has served as a lab aide at the City College of San Francisco for three years. “My next step in education is to find and attend graduate school for ethnobotany. I am also writing a book on the edible and medicinal plants of the bay area and where to find them and how to grow them,” said Davidson. She plans for this to be the first of a series featuring various travel destinations.

Click here to see all of the AFE scholarship award winners.

California Polytechnic State University Senior Is The Second Recipient of the CalFlowers Scholarship - 2019

Helene Dondero, a senior at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), has been selected to receive the second annual CalFlowers Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded every year to an undergraduate student who demonstrates a commitment to working in the floriculture industry.

Dondero is a senior at Cal Poly majoring in agricultural science with an emphasis in ornamental horticulture and a minor in agricultural business.  She grew up in the floral industry, working in her family’s business, Fiore Floral and Gifts, and participating in and leading numerous student and industry organizations at Cal Poly and with Future Farmers of America (FFA). She plans to return Cal Poly to complete a master’s degree in agricultural science after she graduates in the spring of 2020.

“My goal is to be an agricultural science teacher and FFA Advisor. I will be able to share my general knowledge of agriculture with my students, and the knowledge I’ve gained from my hands-on experience working in floral, wholesale, and growing operations,” said Dondero. “I feel that from this hands-on experience – and relationships I have built in the industry – I have a greater understanding of the vastness of the horticulture industry, and I look forward to sharing that with my students.”

San Francisco Horticulture Major Is First Recipient of New CalFlowers Scholarship - 2018 

A City College of San Francisco student has been selected to receive the first annual CalFlowers Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded every year to an undergraduate student who demonstrates a commitment to working in the floriculture industry.

Roamie Thatcher, a San Francisco Botanical Gardens volunteer, private gardener, and community gardener, is the first to be awarded the $2000 scholarship.

“I have been gardening since I was seven years old, when I planted a fairy garden in my backyard. Next came raised beds and a community garden, and now I’m taking horticulture classes at City College of San Francisco and volunteering at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens,” said Roamie.

When asked about her future plans, Roamie replied, “I would like one day to own my own wholesale plant nursery that specializes in ancient and medicinal plants.”



For Immediate Release

Contact:  J Schwanke
Phone:  616-446-6086
Email:  [email protected]

 “TV Show J Schwanke’s Life In Bloom Inspires Viewers to Arrange and Enjoy Flowers” 

Grand Rapids, MI, August 24, 2021 – “This is exactly what I had hoped would happen – that people would not only watch the show but be motivated to try arranging flowers – and experience the benefits themselves,” says J Schwanke, host and creator of the television show “Life in Bloom,” seen nationwide on public television stations (PBS). (Pictured left - J enjoys sharing the simple pleasure of arranging flowers for yourself with his guests on “Life in Bloom”- picture Trina Weller and J Schwanke).

“My initial goal was to make people comfortable with flowers,” J continued. “I wanted to remove the intimidation factor. Have you ever noticed when someone gives a bouquet - like a hostess gift - neither the gifter nor the recipient wants to arrange them. They love the flowers but are afraid they won’t place them in the vase correctly.” J shows viewers simple techniques that lead to success.

“Remember, the only person you really need to please is yourself, so give it a try!” J noted. “And judging by the response to the show and the dramatic uptick in flower sales, viewers are succeeding!”

“I’m thrilled to receive personal notes, and comments from viewers via e-mail and social media,” enthuses J. “The show is really connecting the dots for viewers, and they are sharing their experiences of arranging flowers and enjoying the experience.”

“These messages are inspiring for me. Including one, that was a beautiful hand-written note in the mail – yes, snail mail – inside a lovely card from a viewer in Colorado,” recounts J. (Pictured right - Actual Photos submitted by viewers of Flower arrangements they were inspired to make after watching “J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom”)

Susan P. wrote, “I’ve learned so much about incorporating plants and flowers into nearly every aspect of my life, my garden, my gifts and my lifestyle. It’s become part of how I see myself now in nature.”

Another viewer, Lisa K., shared the following, “I'm kind of smitten with the idea of having little arrangements around my home to remind me that I deserve a little extravagance and frivolity in my life, and I don't have to have loads of money to acquire it.” 

“Shortly, viewers started sending in pictures of flowers they had arranged themselves,” J notes, “it’s wonderful, not only that they are discovering the power of flowers first-hand - which is so important, but that they take the time to share what they have created with me. I am so grateful.”

From Virginia K. in South Carolina, “I love your style of floral arranging and have learned soooo much. I've attached a photo of my latest. My husband said, ‘J would be proud!’”

Jackie B. from Long Island New York shares the following, along with her photo, “My supermarket bouquet had a Protea! I was so excited when I saw these. I added the Lilies.”

A couple of weeks later Jackie B. followed up with, “Here is this week’s supermarket arrangement. I buy two different bouquets and mix them together. Finally, some Snapdragons! I tucked some of the large carnations deeper. Stay tuned!” including another picture.

Tennessee viewer Carol D. writes, “I recently applied skills you taught me to purchase grocery store flowers, prepare and arrange them. I was very pleased with the results. Many thanks and keep up the good work.” (Pictured left - J Schwanke- Host of "J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom" on Public Television).

Some viewers have likened J to PBS icon Mr. Rogers and referred to J as “the Bob Ross” of flowers. “Those are amazing compliments. To be mentioned in the same breath with such legends of kindness is humbling, without a doubt,” says J.

“While such comparisons are almost surreal, the notes and pictures of viewer-made arrangements are very real and so inspiring for me,” says J. “However, there are also viewer messages that really reflect the true power of flowers. I am humbled that they would share their personal challenges, and I am gratified that they discovered that flowers could make such a difference in their lives.”

Along with a steady stream of pictures of her arrangements, Claudia D. from Colorado has shared, “I do know for sure; I would LOVE to share my story of how I found you on TV during some of my darkest and scariest days. I can’t thank you enough for helping me through those times.”

“It’s not me, it’s the flowers,” J asserts.

(Pictured above: Simple Easy to create Flower projects- are part of each “Life in Bloom” episode.)

J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom is still accepting underwriters for Season 4, which debuts nationwide in the U.S. in April of 2022.

Inquiries and input about the show are always welcome at: [email protected]

J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom is presented and distributed by American Public Television. Check local public television listings to find out when J Schwanke’s Life in Bloom airs in your area. The show is also available to stream for free via and the PBS App.

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