Twelve years after being inducted into the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD), Denise Gehrke will, this summer, be presenting a main-stage program at the organization’s National Symposium, “Awaken,” in Las Vegas, Nev., July 6-11, 2019. “Presenting a main-stage program for an AIFD symposium has been on my ‘flower bucket list,’” Denise shared. “It is forcing me to push myself to reach beyond the limits of what I have thought possible for me to achieve. It is exciting and terrifying at the same time!

Denise has been in love with flowers and the art of arranging them ever since she took her first floral design class in high school. Currently, she is a lead floral designer at Destinations by Design Floral Studio in Las Vegas, an event-planning company that stages corporate and social events for major casinos, individuals and corporations in Las Vegas and abroad.

Prior to moving to Las Vegas, Denise worked at Freytag’s Florist in Austin, Texas, for a brief time, and before that, she was the creative design manager at Waukesha Floral & Greenhouse in Wisconsin. It was at Waukesha Floral that Denise learned and grew the most within the floral industry, and she still considers the owners and staff her family.

Professionally, Denise has accomplished much, which she credits to her involvement in a variety of floral industry associations. During her years in Wisconsin, she served on the Wisconsin & Upper Michigan Florists Association (WUMFA)’s board of directors and was a teacher and curriculum writer for the association’s Certified Florist (CF) program. She also won numerous design competitions at WUMFA conventions and presented a main-stage program for WUMFA’s annual convention in 2017. In addition, Denise was involved with Teleflora’s Wisconsin-Upper Michigan Unit, serving as president in 2011.

“I am forever thankful for the never-ending friendships, support and open doors that these two organizations have provided me,” Denise said.

“Through much determination and hard work, I have achieved many of my professional goals,” Denise said. “For now, my focus is my AIFD program. After that, I know there will be more fantastic stops on my life’s flower journey, which I am looking forward to but have no idea what or where they will be.”

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