The 2017 Western Nursery & Landscape Association Awards were presented Wednesday, Jan. 18. The event takes place Jan. 19-20 in Kansas City, Mo., and features education, networking and a trade show.
The 2017 Western Legend Award was presented posthumously to Bernie Hillermann at the Wednesday Evening Reception.
Hillermann served as president of the Missouri Landscape & Nursery Association and Western Nursery & Landscape Association. On the state, regional and national levels Hillermann Nursery has been recognized as a premier garden center and nursery thanks to Bernie's vision and hard work. Hillermann died July 8, 2016. He was 84.
The 2017 Western Employee of the Year has been awarded to Lupe Rios. Rios began his career at Forrest Keeling Nursery more than 18 years ago as a field worker. Rios demonstrated early on a keen desire to learn and management took note of his potential. He obtained his GED, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Missouri Baptist University while maintaining a full time job.
Rios wanted to give back to his new country and joined the Missouri National Guard in 2005. Rios has served two deployments, first to Kosovo in 2008 and then he was selected as one of eight members of the elite Missouri Agricultural Development Team deployed in Afghanistan. His mission was to share horticultural practices with local farmers. Rios now holds the rank of Staff Sergeant.
Rios became a U.S. citizen in June 2007 and now heads Forrest Keeling Nursery's entire propagation and container production of more than 750,000 plants annually.
Two Outstanding State Association Leader Awards for Oklahoma were presented on Wednesday evening to Mark and Tabitha West, Cedar Valley Nursery.
Mark and Tabitha have each served as President of the Oklahoma Nursery & Landscape Association and Mark has served as President of the Western Nursery & Landscape Association, much earlier in his career having been a WNLA Scholarship Recipient.
The Outstanding State Association Leader Award for Missouri was awarded to Bonnie Coy-Svenson, Southeast Missouri State University.
Raymond Cloyd has been awarded the Outstanding State Association Leader Award in the state of Kansas. Dr. Cloyd is a professor in the Department of Entomology, Kansas State University.
Photos provided by Western Nursery & Landscape Association