Every year, the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) honors a distinct group of individuals who contribute time and energy into enhancing, protecting, and serving Florida’s nursery and landscape industry through its FNGLA Industry Awards Program. This year’s winners will be honored during FNGLA’s Annual Convention in Orlando on Saturday, June 18.
FNGLA’s Industry Awards Program acknowledges both FNGLA and industry-at-large service — with varying criteria geared for each award. Nominations are accepted from the industry and winners are selected by a committee of industry peers.
The Wendell Butler Award and the FNGLA Hall of Fame are recognized as the most prestigious awards given by FNGLA. The Wendell Butler Award is presented for service to FNGLA, and the FNGLA Hall of Fame Award is a lifetime achievement award. Nominations are accepted from the industry at large.
Here’s a brief look at this year’s winners:
Wendell E. Butler Award: Bob Cook, Southern Agricultural Insecticides, Inc.
Bob Cook has spent most of his adult life in Southwest Florida as both a student and teacher of plants and landscapes. A true plant geek, Cook shares his horticulture passion and expertise in every area of his life. He has taught master gardener classes. He was host to a live gardening radio show for several years, writer of articles for the local paper as well as gardening magazines, and currently writes a horticulture blog and maintains an instructional website. He has been an active member of FNGLA’s Royal Palm Chapter since the early 1990s, serving as president twice and as the chapter’s representative to the FNGLA Board of Directors. Cook also served on FNGLA’s Marketing Committee, Budget committee, and was one of FNGLA’s Outstanding Educators.
FNGLA Hall of Fame Inductee: P.J. Klinger, Brantley Nurseries
P.J. Klinger is considered one of the industry’s foremost plantsmen. Not only does he have extensive knowledge of a wide range of plants, Klinger developed several new cultivars including Florida City Series Coleus, Syngonium ‘Red Butterfly,’ Viburnum ‘Halfabuki,’ and Loropetalum ‘Purple Zirconium.’ During his 31-year career at family-owned Brantley Nurseries in Longwood, FL, Klinger has been active on several industry boards and generous in sharing his expertise and passion for plants with all who have interest.
Farm Credit / FNGLA Young Nursery Professional: Tristen Bowen, Marriott Vacation Club
A 2004 University of Florida horticulture graduate, Bowen made her mark early as horticulture manager at the Gaylord Palms Resort and now oversees the landscapes of several Marriott Vacation Club properties. Bowen not only is a regular at FNGLA conferences and events, but is often helping behind the scenes or sharing her knowledge as a speaker or group leader. She currently is treasurer of the FNGLA Action Chapter and is an integral part in the planning of the chapter’s monthly meetings.
FNGLA Outstanding Volunteer Member: Julie Forrest, Stallings Crop Insurance Corp.
When someone is seeking volunteer help, particularly in the FNGLA Royal Palm and Manasota Chapters, Forrest is the go-to person. Whether it is helping with a fishing tournament fundraiser, serving on the state convention committee, or delivering survival supplies following a natural disaster, Forrest is the first to say yes and get the job done.
FNGLA Outstanding Educator: Cindy Griffin, Broward County Schools
Griffin is a Resource Teacher for Agriscience for Broward County Public Schools, serving as a conduit between county education resources, ag teachers, and students. She has been a driving force in helping students prepare for the FCHP exam, as well as generously volunteering on the local FNGLA and Farm Bureau boards.
FNGLA Outstanding Chapter Leader: Heather Blake, Chestnut Hill Tree Farm, Inc.; FNGLA Frontrunners Chapter
Blake is the current president of the FNGLA Frontrunners Chapter and has done an outstanding job of planning and organizing new and different monthly chapter meetings. She has championed two community landscape projects, which she and her fellow chapter members executed with great enthusiasm and success.
FNGLA Outstanding Chapter Leader: Jenn Helms-Shelley, Railroad Nursery, Inc.; FNGLA Miami-Dade Chapter
Helms-Shelly has served in several board positions of the FNGLA Miami Dade Chapter including president in 2013-14. She has been very effective connecting the FNGLA Miami-Dade Chapter with several other local groups in which she is involved, including Farm Share and Homestead Chamber of Commerce.
For more information about FNGLA’s Industry Awards, contact FNGLA at 800-375-3642, or visit the FNGLA web site.