CNGA Awards Marked at Industry Celebration

Nine honorees were recognized for their contributions in 2022 and beyond at the CNGA Industry Celebration Feb. 2, held in conjunction with the ProGreen Expo.

CNGA members recognized were:

  • Horizon Award Acknowledges an individual who has been in the industry less than five years, exhibits the qualities and high standards exemplifying CNGA, and during that time has made a significant contribution to a CNGA firm.

Megan Brown, Alameda Wholesale Nursery: Says Stan Brown, president of Alameda Wholesale Nursery, “When our perennial manager Ron Brown retired in 2019, it left a significant hole in our leadership at Alameda Wholesale Nursery. Megan stepped up to bat and hit a home run. Rather than doing things the way we have always done them, Megan looked at our opportunities with a fresh set of eyes and has been a tireless leader. She strengthened her education by being involved with Plant Select. Megan approaches each part of her life with a smile and a positive attitude.”

Emily Helmus, Arbor Valley Nursery: Emily works extremely hard at making sure the customers and Colorado landscapes get the right plant for the right spot. She genuinely cares about the future of our landscapes and the industry and pours her heart into this bright future every day. As the season progressed, she has she revealed herself to be a great leader and teacher, which will bode well as she begins to train the next generation of great nursery people. Emily was nominated by Jason Shimmel.

Emily McAuley, Denver Botanic Gardens, Chatfield Farms: Emily has taken over the production of plants in the Chatfield greenhouses for the Denver Botanic Gardens. She has dived head first into Chatfield’s breeding programs and works closely with the Plant Select Program. Emily has been integral in organizing the Gardens’ production schedules and improving processes. She is bright and energetic, has a passion for horticulture and is looking forward to working with the education department, connecting visitors with plants. Emily was nominated by Mike Bone.

  • Exemplary Service AwardAcknowledges an individual who is in the industry and employed by a CNGA Member firm. This individual, exhibits the qualities and high standards exemplifying CNGA, has made a significant contribution to a CNGA firm and represents the best of the industry.

Dan Gerace, Welby Gardens/Hardy Boy Plants: Dan has served on the CSU Annual and Perennial Trials committees and has grown or propagated entries since he arrived at Welby Gardens in 2010. He has helped organize industry tours for multiple organizations as well as school tours to familiarize young people with the industry. Dan has served the industry nonstop for most of his adult life, always without fanfare. His quiet, constant and thoughtful presence can always be counted on to get the task at hand done. Dan was nominated by Al Gerace.

Diana Reavis, Eason Horticultural Resources: Diana is always willing to help CNGA whenever and however possible – at BBQs, ProGreen Expo, planning a huge retirement celebration or brainstorming and advising on programs. She is always on call and always ready to support CNGA. She continues her efforts with commitments to the CSU Trial Garden Committee, CHREF Board, Plant Select and is currently the Western Region Director for the Perennial Plant Association. Diana was nominated by Harriett McMillan.

Ben Northcutt, Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association: Ben has worked at CNGA since 2014, and has experienced some significant health challenges in the past two years. Despite this, he continues as a full-time employee, and is endlessly optimistic, has a great attitude, and treats CNGA members and co-workers with love and respect. Ben is well-known to all our members and especially the Young Horticulture Professionals group. He plays an important role in our efforts to recruit young people into horticulture, working with high school teachers in the Plant Ahead program. He is a tremendous co-worker and employee, and brings grace and light to the office. Ben was nominated by the CNGA board and his supervisor, Glenda Mostek.

  • Person of the Year AwardRecognizes an individual who in the last 12 months has made a positive impact on the regional horticulture industry through their involvement, actions or participation in the promotion of professionalism, creativity and involvement for the betterment of the industry.

Jack Fetig, Fossil Creek Nursery: Jack has led the CHREF board through significant challenges this year as President. He spearheaded the efforts of CHREF to launch a campaign to raise over $1 million to attract new students into horticulture and increase funding for scholarships and research. He has been instrumental in corralling the new, lofty goals and ambitions of CHREF into a workable plan, and helped breathe new life into the CHREF Golf Committee to elevate the event, making it a bigger/better fundraising arm for CHREF. Jack demonstrated excellent leadership this past year, in his quiet, gentle and calm manner, and worked hard to help CHREF realize its goal to recruit more students into horticulture to support the future of our industry. Jack was nominated by Kent Broome.

Jack Fetig and Mandy Gerace
  • Hall of Fame AwardPresented to an individual who, throughout their career, has demonstrated leadership, commitment, and made contributions for the betterment of the industry as a whole.

David Salman, High Country Gardens: David was nominated posthumously by Pat Hayward. She said, “The horticultural world lost a giant this past June, and it seems only fitting that his impact continue to be honored. I worked closely with David for more than 10 years while at Plant Select, and was always in awe at his humility, in addition to his incredible talents. He was honestly more interested in exploring new hillsides, canyons and grassy plains than being the center of attention, but I do know that being respected by his peers was deeply personal and appreciated. David introduced dozens of new plant varieties, focusing on plants that were not only beautiful and adapted to our arid high-altitude gardens and landscapes, but also for their benefits to local wildlife and pollinators. He had an innate ability to notice that one individual plant in a field of hundreds that was different and special. He spent years breeding southwestern natives to bring out the best characteristics, and he especially loved agastaches, penstemons, and salvias. His latest (but unrealized) dream was to plant a native “seed orchard” where selections of native shrubs and trees would be lined out, and seed or cuttings could be harvested for regional growers to produce and bring to market. This award honors his lifetime of dedication to our regional horticulture in a way that few others have ever done.

Debi Borden-Miller, Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association: Debi is a very positive person and has been a promoter of our industry for over three decades. After more than 30 years at Welby Gardens, she is now on staff with CNGA. She has made numerous TV appearances on behalf of our industry, and teaches classes at the Denver Botanic Gardens as well as at CSU as part of the horticulture program. She is a past president of Colorado Greenhouse Growers, past president of GreenCO, and has been on the ProGreen Expo board, the CNGA board, and is currently on the Colorado Garden & Home Show board. Debi truly exemplifies a volunteer spirit and goes above and beyond for her profession and the horticulture industry. Her boss Glenda adds: “We are truly lucky to have Debi on staff at CNGA. Her depth of knowledge of the industry and the history of the people involved helps us every day.” Debi was nominated by Ron Arpin.