7 growers achieve EAGL certifications
L to R: Dr. Charlie Hall (faculty), Alan Jones, Ryan Hop, Karin Walters, Andy Aiken, Becky Thomas, Farai Madziva, Bob Blew, Kellee O’Reilly (faculty).

7 growers achieve EAGL certifications

The eighth class of the Executive Academy for Growth & Leadership (EAGL) program includes nursery and greenhouse growers from across the U.S.

Dr. Charlie Hall (Ellison Chair for International Floriculture) has announced the graduation of the eighth cohort (Iota) of the elite Executive Academy for Growth & Leadership (EAGL) program for nursery and greenhouse growers. Seven industry leaders received their Certificate in Applied Horticultural Business Management from Texas A&M University on February 4, 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced this year’s cohort into a series of accommodations, including more intense Zoom-based sessions and physical distancing, testing, masks and outdoor environments when they could meet in person.

"I am very proud of the work that this year's cohort put into the planning efforts for their businesses and the innovative thinking that was generated in our meetings," said Faculty Lead and EAGL Founder Dr. Hall. "This was a diverse group from several different type and sizes of growing operations that sold into diverse retail venues, so there was a lot of 'outside the box' sharing and insights that were generated. After 8 cohorts these last 8 years, I'm still amazed at the ingenuity that keeps being demonstrated in our EAGL discussions."

This year's students excelled in a challenging environment while also navigating significant adjustments in their own businesses, added EAGL’s Chief Experience Officer Kellee O’Reilly. 

"We were thrilled to be able to host the Capstone module and graduation ceremony at Hill Country Casitas in Dripping Springs, Texas, a property that allowed every student to have their own private casita and had a sizeable outdoor pavilion with a kitchen," O’Reilly said. "Getting our community together safely was our top priority.”

Capstone projects were judged this year by W.J. Rossi (Koss Olinger Financial) and Ed Bales (Motorola
University, retired). They join Dr. Hall, Kellee O’Reilly and the other members of the faculty, Kip Creel
(StandPoint), Corey Bordine (MonkeyBar Management), Barry Sturdivant (TS Ag Finance) in congratulating the Iota cohort of the EAGL program on achieving their certification:
Alan Jones, Manor View Farms (MD)
Andy Aiken, Grower Direct Farms (CT / ME)
Becky Thomas, Spring Grove Nursery (IL)
Bob Blew, Centerton Nursery (NJ)
Farai Madziva, Kitayama Bros Farms (CA)
Karin Walters, Walters Gardens (MI)
Ryan Hop, Walters Gardens (MI)
These graduates now join their peers from prior classes in the EAGL Network. The ninth group – the Kappa cohort – is accepting applications now (three available seats remain) and will begin their curriculum in June 2021 (note that direct competitors are not accepted in the program in the same year.). To learn more about the curriculum, click here.