For many, the Society of American Florists’ Congressional Action Days (CAD) is the ideal way to connect with lawmakers and industry colleagues. SAF members reflecting on their first time at CAD say the event gave them inspiration, action items — and a front-row seat for history.
“CAD is a great opportunity to get together with industry peers and do a deep dive into the governmental policy issues that affect our industry,” said Frank Biddle, president and CEO of FBI Flowers and Tradewinds International. “As a first-time attendee, I found it fascinating to see the wheels of governmental policy in motion and to work with my fellow Californians to influence our representatives in support of the flower industry.”
Lisa Bellacicco, a freelance floral designer in the Washington, D.C., area, also attended for the first-time last year.
“This is a rare and unique opportunity in the industry to exercise your rights, literally in the nation’s capital,” she said. “Additional benefits are the really great networking opportunities with other industry professionals who you might not meet otherwise and social media opportunities – it’s just a great adventure to take your social media followers on.”
Last year, Cameron Pappas, co-owner of Norton’s Florist in Birmingham, Alabama, was a first timer who recognized the networking opportunities as well as the importance of attending.
“People who take the time out their schedules to travel to the Washington, D.C., and speak to the representatives from their respective states are the people who show true care for the future of the floral industry in the United States,” said Pappas. “As a first timer, I was nervous about going to the event, meeting new people, and most of all speaking to the people who run our country. There’s no need to be afraid, as SAF provides ample support and training on how to have the discussions with the representatives.
“I had a great time in D.C., met lots of new people, had a chance to catch up with old floral industry friends, and make a real difference in the future of the floral industry in the United States. I can’t wait to attend this year, and for many years to come,” he added.
Those are messages that resonate deeply with Joe Bischoff, Ph.D., SAF’s senior lobbyist.
“It’s important for first-time attendees to know that their voices can be heard and that they can influence the legislative process toward policies favorable to our industry,” he said. “Joining with a group like the SAF to deliver a message directly to Congress is one of the best ways to be heard.”
To encourage first timers to get their feet wet at the 40th annual Congressional Action Days, March 9-10, SAF is offering free registration for a second person from your company who has never attended before. This offer is not available online. To take advantage of it, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Renee Houston Zemanski is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.