Walter Reemtsma - State President
Theme: "Together We Will Make It Happen"
Greetings from the state of Iowa. I am looking forward to meeting all of you in person come November. I am a retired middle school science educator and after 41 years of being in the classroom I was offered an early retirement package and accepted said package in the spring of 2008. A few years later, I went back to the classroom as a student and after two years of weekend classes I became a Commissioned Presbyterian Lay Pastor. Currently I am serving two churches as Pastor Walt. In addition, I serve a third church as pianist for their Saturday evening worship service.
“Together We Will Make It Happen” is the theme that I have selected for my term as President of the Federated Garden Clubs of Iowa. (FGCI) Many of our garden clubs have experienced a loss in membership in the past two years and thus there are less bodies to get a specific project completed. The same can be said for other organizations present in your community. My Kiwanis club has about half the members it had 3 years ago. Thus, I am encouraging that our garden clubs network with other organizations within our community to get the flower garden in the park planted or purchase trees for a picnic area.
On a more personal note, as club members we will increase our membership rolls if together we are continually aware of those in our personal circles of acquaintances who enjoy gardening and share those names with each other allowing us to offer invitations to come and attend a meeting. As a club, regardless of our numbers, we will make things happen that will impact our community!
My installation as president of the Federated Garden Clubs of Iowa a few weeks ago was a historic moment as my installation broke the glass ceiling. I am the first state president of the male gender in the history of FGCI. With that comes another first. For the first time in its history the FGCI has a “First Lady”, my wife Jan, the mother of our four children, grandparent to 13 and dedicated companion to our cat “Wilma”.
I received my love for flowers from my mother who always had flowers growing around our rural farmhouse. I have always loved flowers and had a desire to work in a flower shop when I was in high school. That did not happen but many years later my desire became a reality when I was hired to work in a local flower shop the week before Mother’s Day. (That’s a whole another story.) From then on, I worked for a number of different shops and then my wife and I opened our own wedding flower business from our home. The neat about that decision was that on many occasions I was able to provide the flowers for the weddings of my former students.
If you would visit our home, you would see flowers and plants growing everywhere on our property. We love colorful annuals but as we become older, we are planting more perennials. Our love for flowers eventually led to entering flower shows which we enjoy doing together. My wife, Jan, is good at tables and I enjoy the design classes but in reality, we generally do our entries together.
At our state meeting a few weeks ago I sensed a new spirit of energy among our members. I sensed our members desire to do new things, want to accent their identity, and want to make a difference in the lives of students by expanding our scholarship program. Based on their desires I will be focusing my efforts on making these things happen.
Till next time, remember, we will make it happen.
Iowa State President
Federated Garden Clubs of Iowa