Fresno State’s Floral Laboratory gained additional distinction when manager Elisa Valdez earned certified floral designer recognition from the American Institute of Floral Designers.

It’s the first time a Fresno State Floral Lab employee has received that certification. Valdez, a Fresno State alumna who began as a student volunteer at the lab in 2005 and was hired as manager a year later, was one of 56 florists certified in 2011.

In April, the Floral Lab was named one of the top florists in the central and coast regions by, a website that offers ideas and tips to couples planning a wedding.

Valdez oversees a staff of nine students, who construct and market arrangements for parties, holiday events, weddings, funeral services and banquets throughout the community. The lab opened in 1970. It supports an entrepreneurship in floral design course taught by Valdez through the Department of Plant Science within the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

The lab supports other ornamental horticulture courses and is a full-service enterprise that provides educational experiences in flower production and marketing and the construction and marketing of floral compositions. Students broaden their floral design techniques and gain hands-on experience in the floral business, including market analysis and financial procedures.

The lab’s first priority is to serve the university community with floral compositions for campus functions and the needs of university students and employees. However, the lab has also  provided services to off-campus clientele. Valdez has led the Floral Lab into relationships with a wedding planner and other local vendors.

“This gives the students the opportunity to see another side to the industry and promotes their education goals,” Valdez said

Valdez’s certification required a rigorous process that assesses the designer’s knowledge in the elements, principles, design techniques and concepts of floral design, which culminates in a four-hour skills challenge across a range of typical occasions requiring floral composition.

“Elisa’s selection as certified floral designer by the American Institute of Floral Design is a great honor for the Fresno State Floral program,” said Dr. Ganesan Srinivasan, director of the University Agricultural Laboratory. “It opens up new and exciting opportunities for training and education in floral design.”

Valdez is a Turlock native who earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from Fresno State’s Craig School of Business in 2008.

She said her certification will enhance Fresno State’s floral design program and boost enrollment for her class next spring.

She said her next goal is improving her work for her students and clientele, then preparing for recertification in 2013, followed by tests to become an accredited member of American Institute of Floral Designers, the organization’s highest level of certification.

In June, Valdez was awarded a Coleman Fellowship, which rewards instructors who establish and teach courses incorporating entrepreneurship into their subject.

The Fresno State Floral Lab is at 3150 E. Barstow Ave. (east of Chestnut and north across Barstow from the Gibson Farm Market).

For more information, contact Valdez at 559.278. 7627 or

(Copy by University Communications news intern Nicole Maul.)

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