Local nursery owners recognized at convention
The Oregon Association of Nurseries recently honored several members for their outstanding achievements and service to the nursery industry. These awards were announced at the 2017 OAN Convention, which was held at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort in Gleneden Beach.
The convention also featured the passing of the president's gavel from retailer and grower Mark Bigej, of Woodburn-based Al's Garden & Home, to wholesale grower Josh Zielinski, of Alpha Nursery Inc. in Salem.
The OAN represents a statewide nursery industry that achieved gross sales of more than $909 million in 2016.
Local residents joining Zielinski and past president Bigej on the OAN Executive Committee for 2017–18 are president-elect Mike Hiller, of Kraemer's Nursery in Mount Angel, and treasurer Kyle Fessler, of St. Christopher Nursery LLC in Gervais.
Awards were also given out to local residents at the convention.
OAN Honorary Life Memberships to Dan and Diane Wells, former owners of D. Wells Nursery based in Hubbard. This award recognizes lifetime service to the nursery industry. Dan Wells served as OAN president in 2000. The couple was recognized for its longtime service to the industry.
The OAN Outstanding Service Award went to Kristin VanHoose, co-owner of Amethyst Hill Nursery and
Hydrangeas Plus, both based in Aurora. The award is given for outstanding long-term service to the industry and association. VanHoose served as OAN president in 2011, going to bat to help stave off harmful regulation of interstate shipments. Since concluding her presidency, she has continued her involvement in, and support of,
the nursery industry.
The Political Awareness Award was given to Leigh Geschwill, co-owner of F & B Farms and Nursery, a wholesale grower and retailer (Happy Bee Garden Center) in Woodburn. The award honors an individual who has shown exceptional political awareness in dedicated support of the nursery industry. Geschwill served as chair of the OAN Government Relations Committee in 2017 and as OAN president in 2016. She has been an effective voice for the OAN in legislative hearings and a strong fundraiser for the Oregon Nurseries' Political Action Committee.
The Retailer of the Year Award went to Al's Garden & Home, of Woodburn. The award honors the company's strength and innovation as a retailer, which was highlighted in 2017 with the company's branding transition and the opening of its fourth and newest
location in Wilsonville.
The President's Five Star Awards, chosen by outgoing president Bigej, were given in recognition of outstanding or crucial service, assistance or support rendered during the president's year. They include:
• Kathy LeCompte, co-owner of seedling growers Brooks Tree Farm in Salem with her husband Dave. She was recognized for her longtime support and leadership of the industry, particularly for her fundraising and support of the Oregon Nurseries' Political Action Committee.
• Leigh Geschwill. She was recognized for her service as past president, going above and beyond what most past presidents do. She took on a key role as 2017 chair of the OAN Government Relations Committee and delivered effective testimony to the Oregon Legislature on several key matters.
• Amy Bigej, wife of Mark Bigej. She was recognized for her support during her husband's year of leadership.