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SNA Announces 2014 Award Recipients

30 Jul 2014 6:58 PM | Karen Summers (Administrator)

Atlanta, Ga., July 24, 2014 – The Southern Nursery Association (SNA) has announced the recipients of the 2014 SNA Awards.  The awards were presented at the 116th Annual SNA Business Meeting on Thursday, July 24, 2014, at the Georgia International Convention Center during SNA 2014.


The SNA Awards Program began in 1956, when the late John B. Wight, Sr., suggested to the officers of the Southern Nursery Association that an award be offered annually to the person of their selection who, in their opinion, had contributed most to the advancement of the industry in the South and to the welfare of the Southern Nursery Association. This first award, considered a lifetime achievement award, was named the Slater Wight Memorial Award in memory of the late J. Slater Wight, brother of the late John B. Wight, Sr. Nomination. Selection of recipients is made by the SNA Board of Directors.


This year’s recipient of the Slater Wight Memorial Award is Dr. Tom Yeager, Professor, Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, IFAS, Gainesville, Fla. Tom is a native of Alabama, where he managed a wholesale container nursery before pursuing graduate studies in Virginia.  After completing his Ph.D., he assumed extension and research responsibilities at the University of Florida, where a team approach and partnerships have resulted in significant achievements.  One such accomplishment was leading the development of a Best Management Practices (BMP) Guide for nursery crops. Several universities, governmental agencies, and the nursery industry worked cooperatively to write the BMP Guide that was printed and distributed by the Southern Nursery Association. Another significant accomplishment was the enhancement of cooperation between governmental agencies and the nursery industry in Florida. Tom worked with a task force to craft BMPs that provide nursery plant producers the opportunity to obtain a waiver of state imposed liability from ground and surface water contamination. 


The long-term objectives of Tom’s research and extension programs are to develop and implement the use of irrigation schedules based on plant water needs. Applying the precise amount of water needed by plants will conserve water and minimize nutrient loss to the environment.  Precision irrigation is accomplished by the implementation of management strategies based on model systems in which plant growth and nutrient loss (efficiency) are predicted from environmental and physical inputs. The adoption of this science-based information obtained from the research program is disseminated to the nursery industry through the network of university extension personnel conducting county and regional educational programs in addition to industry association seminars, print, and electronic media.


Yeager has been instrumental in numerous research projects and industry papers. He received the SNA Environmental Award (1999), was recognized as the Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents Outstanding Specialist (2003), the International Plant Propagators Society Southern Region Sidney B. Meadows Award (2008), and elected as a Fellow of the International Plant Propagators Society Southern Region (2010).


This year’s recipient of the David E. Laird, Sr. Memorial Award is Ty Strode, Vice President and Director of Marketing, Agri-Starts, Apopka, Florida. The nursery industry runs in Ty Strode’s veins. Randy Strode, Ty’s father, started Agri-Starts, a successful tissue culture laboratory, when Ty was a small child. It was not Ty’s intention to go into the family business. He graduated in 2002 from the University of Central Florida with a degree in marketing and business and shortly thereafter decided to use his expertise to build a new website for the business. To develop the site, Ty spent three month visiting nurseries, photographing hundreds of plants, taking endless notes for descriptions and culture information and organized the details. In the process, Ty developed a deeper appreciation for plants and looked at the family business in a new light. By December of 2002, Ty had committed to full-time employment at Agri-Starts and was fully immersed in the business. He took on larger roles with marketing, sales, new business development, and managed to keep plants shipping out the door on schedule. Ty admits he is now officially a plant geek, constantly researching and collecting plants in his spare time.

Ty is very active in the Florida Nursery Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA) and regularly attends Action chapter meetings. He has served on the FNGLA marketing committee and budget committee. In 2012 and 2013, he served as chairperson of The Landscape Show planning committee and was a helpful advisor in the development of the show’s mobile website and the driving force behind Tapped In, a networking event at The Landscape Show for professionals under the age of forty. He currently serves on The Landscape Show committee. Recognized in 2013 by GPN Magazine as one of the top 40 industry professionals under 40, Ty is known nationally as an industry leader in edibles. He developed an industry cross-over mix of edibles that work well for wholesale growers and the farming community. Ty is also FNGLA’s 2014 Young Nursery Professional of the Year.


While Ty has a self-proclaimed passion for plants, he has an even stronger passion for his family; wife, Liana and their two children, Maya and Miller.  He proudly boasts five-year-old Maya already loves plants and flowers. Ty is an avid paddle boarder and a long-suffering Orlando Magic fan.


Ty was nominated by FNGLA for this prestigious award. He is a strong asset to FNGLA and our industry and has accomplished much at his young age making him very worthy of this recognition.


Established by the SNA Board in 1992, the SNA Pinnacle Award is given to the individual within the allied industry who, in the opinion of the SNA Board, has contributed most to the advancement of the industry in the south and to the welfare of the Southern Nursery Association. This award is limited to SNA members. Nomination and selection of recipients is made by the SNA Board of Directors.


This year’s recipient of the SNA Pinnacle Award is Warren Lockeby, Regional Sales Manager, Nursery Supplies, Orlando, Florida. Warren was born in Lubbock, Texas and graduated from Apopka Memorial High School in 1971 and Georgia State University in 1975 with a BBA, Business Administration. He was employed at E.I. DuPoint from 1976 through 1980. Warren’s green industry days began with The Lerio Corporation in 1981 until it merged with Nursery Supplies in 2000. He has been with Nursery Supplies for a total of 33 years. Warren has been active in the green industry by serving on the Board of Directors of the Florida Foliage Assocation through the merger with FNGLA, the Board of Directors of FNGLA as Chairman of the Allied Division, the Florida Nursery & Allied Trade Show (FNATS) Tradeshow committee, the SNA/HRI Golf Classic committee (1996 – 2006; and served as chairman 2004-2006). He has also served on the SNA Disaster Program Committee (2005-2006 co-chair) and was awarded the FNGLA Allied Person of the Year (1996). Warren lives in Orlando, Florida with his wife Paige and his niece Jensen. After 33 years of involvement in this industry, making great contributions through his volunteer work and leadership, and being a great salesman and serving customers throughout the Southeast, it is time Warren Lockeby is recognized for these contributions.


In 1969, an Award of Merit was created to honor those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to ornamental horticultural research and, more specifically, to SNA. In 1972, the SNA Board of Directors resolved that the Award of Merit would be renamed the Porter Henegar Memorial Award for Horticultural Research in memory of the late Porter Henegar, Past Executive Secretary of SNA (1959 - 1972), to commemorate his years of tireless effort and service to the SNA. The recipient is selected annually by fellow research workers for his/her concern and work toward improving the nursery industry.


The recipient of the 2014 Porter Henegar Memorial Award is Dr. Sandra Reed, Research Geneticist with the US National Arboretum in McMinnville, Tennessee. Recently retired, Dr. Reed has a long history in the green industry and is widely recognized throughout the industry for her research, development and introduction of improved cultivars through the U.S. National Arboretum’s breeding program. Her breeding work has resulted in many plant releases that are widely used in the industry but perhaps one of her biggest impacts on the industry is the introduction of three oakleaf hydrangeas – ‘Munchkin’, ‘Ruby Slippers’, and ‘Queen of Hearts’ that are taking the industry by storm.


Dr. Reed was involved in the SNA Research Conference for many years with numerous presentations and acting as section chair and editor for eight years assisting with the coordination of the conference.

Dr. Reed holds a B.S. in Agronomy, University of Kentucky (1974) and a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics, University of Kentucky (1979). Her career began with the Campbell Soup Company as a research associate (1980-1982) and she later joined North Carolina State University, Department of Crop Science as an assistant professor (1982-1989). Her work with the USDA-ARS as a research geneticist began in 1989 and continued for more than twenty years, throughout which time she made great contributions to the industry through her research, development and participation.


She has held memberships in the American Society for Horticultural Science, American Hydrangea Society, International Society for Horticultural Science, and the International Plant Propagators’ Society, Eastern Region. She has served the industry through numerous committee, panel, boards and professorships. She is a noted speaker on the subject of hydrangeas and her published white papers are too numerous to mention.


Sandra has recently retired and now lives here in Atlanta and enjoys spending a lot of time with her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren.


The Don Shadow Award of Excellence, named for the first recipient, Don O. Shadow, Shadow Nursery, Winchester, TN, is presented to an individual, corporation or organization that has provided exemplary service, leadership and generosity in the development, promotion and use of new and improved landscape plants. Recipients must demonstrate a sincere commitment to and passion for expanding knowledge and use of new and improved plants for the landscape. This award is presented to an individual, corporation or organization that has provided exemplary service, leadership and generosity in the development, promotion and use of new and improved landscape plants. Awardees must also demonstrate a strong volunteer and/or service commitment to bringing better plants to the landscape. Nominations are accepted from attendees of the Southern Plant Conference and SNA Members. Nominees may be carried forward from one year to the next. Selection is made by the SNA Board of Directors.


The 2014 recipient of the Don Shadow Award of Excellence is Margie Y. Jenkins, Jenkins Farm & Nursery, Amite, Lousiana. Born September 5, 1921, Margie was the eldest of six children and grew up on a farm. Margie is certain that the family farm and her mothers’ large flower garden filled with a wide variety of plants, and her sense of esthetics and love of beauty left a lasting impression on her as a child. A child of the depression, she never felt poor and has been quoted as saying, “When your childhood is surrounded by beauty, your yearning for this continues into adulthood.”


After graduating from high school in 1938 Margie began working for the Farm Security Administration (later called the Farmers Home Administration). In 1946 she married Bryant Jenkins and three years later they bought a 90-acre farm where she still lives today. Watermelons were their first cash crop that funded the start of a dairy operation. Their family grew to include five children, Frederick, Margie Ann, Timothy, Jeffrey and Mark, who are active in the nursery today. In 1960, Margie and Bryant started a 50-acre nursery specializing in Ligustrum and later purchased an additional 128 acres across the street and expanded their stock to include azaleas. In 1974 they installed a small container operation as an addition to their field-grown stock.


In 1976, Margie began commuting to Louisiana State University to take a course from Dr. Neil Odenwald, inspiring her to find her life’s work and passion – the cultivation of rare and native plants. While most growers in the 1970s were content with growing just a few “tried and true” cultivars of azaleas, it was Margie that was determined to grow things that were now, unusual, old-fashioned, and native – against the advise of her husband Bryant who believed they should stick to the plants they were familiar with. But Margie successfully maneuvered her way to realize her personal dream and today her nursery is the realization of her grit, hard work, and vision. When professionals and amateurs look for remarkable plants, Jenkins' name always comes to mind. Margie Jenkins changed the plant palette of Louisiana in the choices of azaleas, native and old-fashioned plants.


Although she loves azaleas, Margie collects and grows a broad spectrum of plant species.  She has never been formally taught any of the steps of propagation. All of her knowledge comes from experience and a natural talent for propagation. She is nationally recognized as a long-time authority and breeder of azaleas and other native plants and is a very interesting and much sought-after speaker.


Margie is very active in numerous native plant societies as well as horticultural organizations and has  received many awards for her achievements from numerous organizations. She and her late husband Bryant were named Outstanding Nursery Persons of the Year (1993) by the Louisiana Nursery & Landscape Association (LNLA) for their outstanding service to the nursery industry. Margie was recipient of the Louisiana Nursery & Landscape Association’s (LNLA) James A. Foret Award (2000), the recipient of the Louisiana Native Plant Society ‘s Karlene DeFatta Award (2002), and the recipient of the SNA’s Slater Wight Memorial Award (2005). She was the 50th recipient of this award, and the first woman to hold this distinguished honor. She was also named Fellow Awardee of the International Plant Propagators’ Society in 2005 for the Southern Region of North America.


The SNA Board of Directors also honors individuals that have served this association and the nursery industry in various capacities throughout the years and have made outstanding contributions during their active participation in the Southern Nursery Association with honorary membership awards. This year, two deserving industry members received SNA Honorary Member Awards. Each recipient has made outstanding contributions to the association and the industry during their active participation in the Southern Nursery Association. The SNA Board of Directors recognized Dr. Allan Armitage, Retired Professor, University of Georgia, Athens, GA and Margie Jenkins, Jenkins Farm and Nursery, Amite, LA, for their dedication to SNA and the field of horticulture.


Dr. Allan Armitage, Emeritus Professor of Horticulture at the University of Georgia (retired Jan, 2014) where he developed and maintained The Trial Gardens at UGA. Dr. Armitage is well known as a writer, speaker and researcher throughout the world. Born and raised in Canada, he lived in Quebec and Ontario, then in East Lansing, Michigan and finally Athens, Georgia. He has worked with landscape plants and greenhouse crops in the North and South, and travels from coast to coast and all parts in between sharing his passion for plants. He holds a B.Sc from McGill University in Montreal, otherwise known as The Harvard of the North, a M.Sc. from University of Guelph and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. His career has taken him all over the world, lecturing throughout United States and Canada, as well as many countries in Europe, South America, New Zealand and Australia. His knowledge has allowed him to write 13 books, countless academic papers and hundreds of articles for professionals and lay people alike. He has written a monthly column for the national greenhouse publication, “Greenhouse Grower”, for over 30 years and has not repeated one yet. And, he has recently developed a mobile app for gardeners, retailers, landscapers and designers about useful perennials, annuals and veggies for the garden. He has been recognized as one of the best teachers in the nation and honored for his achievements throughout he country - the respect from his colleagues is most impressive and his list of awards are simply numerous to mention.


The second honorary membership was awarded to Margie Jenkins, Jenkins Farm & Nursery, Amite, Louisiana. Margie was also presented the Don Shadow Award of Excellence during The Southern Plant Conference on Tuesday, July 22. In presenting the honorary membership SNA Executive Vice President Karen Summers said, “There is a lot I could say about our next honorary member but time will not permit. She has been described as intuitive, creative, fascinating, youthful, energetic, tireless, tenacious, passionate, dedicated, a natural, full of grit and determination, a visionary, an evangelist and a superb grower and as one of the most generous people on the planet. When writing this presentation I found it very challenging to condense her life story, her accomplishments and the accolades written about this botanist. I did find two quotes that I feel epitomize her spirit of giving.”


"I think that the one adjective that describes Margie is generosity because she gives of herself, she gives plants, she gives information, and she gives help to people." (Marion Drummond 2004)


"Margie's accomplishments stem from her attitude that is like a child's wonder, every day is like Christmas, and every day she loves life and the beauty and all the things on this earth." (Ed Blake 2004)


“Margie Yates Jenkins is self-taught horticulturist who through her decades of work has changed the palette of landscape today with her natural talent. We are very honored to bestow this Honorary Membership to such a highly esteemed individual,” Summers concluded.


Margie Jenkins was also the 50th person (and the first woman) to receive the SNA Slater Wight Memorial Award in 2005. Today, in her nineties, she actively attends meetings, workshops, and conferences throughout the country where she still seeks and shares her knowledge. Her focus remains the cultivation of rare, unusual and native plants for the landscape, with a special interest in native azaleas. Decades of work have generated a wealth of respect for Margie and her late husband, Bryant.


SNA believes industry members should be recognized for their distinguished talents, extraordinary service and life achievements. The SNA Awards Program is designed to recognize professionals who have demonstrated their commitment to the Southern Nursery Association and the industry through these annual awards. For a list of previous SNA award winners, visit the SNA website at


Founded in 1899, the Southern Nursery Association is a non-profit trade association representing the horticultural industry in the southeastern U.S. SNA provides member services to wholesale growers, brokers, retailers, landscape contractors, landscape architects, grounds maintenance contractors, interiorscapers and allied suppliers. The SNA strives to unite and advance the horticulture industry through educational, research and marketing efforts.


Photos of all award winners can be found on the SNA website at


For more information on SNA, contact the Southern Nursery Association, Inc., PO Box 801454, Acworth, GA 30101, 678.809.9992,, or visit the SNA website at



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