It could be said that giving of one’s self is the truest, most virtuous form of giving. Seven exemplary individuals from various ends of Florida’s nursery and landscape industry (and one friend of the industry) have taken this adage to new heights. In recognition of their selflessness and leadership, each was chosen as FNGLA’s 2019 Industry Award Winners.
Each year, FNGLA members volunteer their time and energy to better the association and industry.
The Industry Awards will be presented during FNGLA’s Annual Meeting on Saturday morning, June 22 at the Tampa Water Street Marriott in Tampa, Florida. And, this year’s winners are:
Farm Credit/FNGLA Young Nursery Professional - Autumn Schwab White
With her infectious spirit, Autumn Schwab White is a passionate springboard for the industry. As president of FNGLA’s Tampa Bay Chapter, Autumn has infused new and vibrant energy into a host of local events and FNGLA projects.
You may remember Autumn from an episode of “Flip My Florida Yard,” where, as project supervisor, she commanded a pack of more than 40 as they sought to bring a brand-new landscape to the backyard of a wheelchair-bound veteran. Keeping the crew on task, they delivered in less than one day.
Autumn also serves FNGLA as Tampa Bay Chapter’s state board representative and served as this year’s Convention Committee Chair, helping to organize events at FNGLA’s Annual Convention.
A Central Florida native, Autumn, with her husband, Chuck, have owned and operated Dragonfly Landscape and Water Gardens, for the past 10 years.
Friend of the Industry Award - Michael Dukes, Ph.D
A nationally recognized expert in irrigation and water conservation, Michael Dukes, Ph.D., serves on FNGLA’s Landscape Irrigation Committee.
The director of the UF/IFAS Center for Landscape Conservation and Ecology, and professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Dukes was also recently selected to head up the newly established UF/IFAS Center for Land Use Efficiency.
The prestigious FNGLA Friend of the Industry Award honors an individual who has contributed immensely to the advancement and improvement of Florida’s nursery and landscape industry.
FNGLA Hall of Fame - Jerry Frye
Over the course of his career which has spanned more than four decades in Florida’s nursery and landscape industry, Jerry Frye has served in nearly every conceivable capacity.
In fact, one would be hard-pressed to locate an area where this North Georgia native has not made an indelible impact.
Jerry has been a galvanizing, positive force for both FNGLA and the industry.
He and loving wife and business partner, Beth Ann, or ‘Pep’ as most lovingly refer to her, have made their indelible mark on this industry through their family business, Frye Farms in Homestead, which specialized in tree production.
These days, Jerry serves as horticulture director of the Fruit & Spice Park, a 37-acre botanical garden and park in South Florida.
Outstanding Volunteer - Gary Weitermann, FCHP, FCLMT
A familiar face at many FNGLA Certification testing events, Gary Weitermann gives most unselfishly of his time to help others advance their careers.
The horticulturist in charge of pots and baskets at SeaWorld Horticulture, Gary takes the lead in hosting both FNGLA Certified Landscape Technician and Landscape Maintenance Technician exams onsite at the park’s nursery facilities twice per year.
As chairman for FNGLA’s Certification Committee, Gary utilizes his years of industry experience and expertise to help enhance and promote each of FNGLA’s six certifications.
Gary also lends his time and talents at FNGLA trade shows, creating FNGLA’s Certification Showcase, where he sets up a variety of landscape exam test sections. Gary also created FNGLA’s plant identification garden, which helps attract show attendees to the booth, and even provides an opportunity for certified pros to earn CEUs.
Wendell E. Butler Award - Lloyd Singleton, FCHP
With an innate ability to assess and pair one’s talents with available opportunities, Lloyd Singleton has helped generate many successful partnerships within both FNGLA and the industry.
Lloyd is known as an innovator who reaches outside the box to find new solutions, a creative resource to bounce ideas around with -- and a force which maintains an incredible follow-through.
Lloyd has also shared his ability to be forward-thinking as an FNGLA volunteer leader over the years, to the benefit of people throughout the industry.
Lloyd has also, through the years, helped forge new partnerships between FNGLA and UF/IFAS – notably with his work developing and advocating for FCHP certification education training as the architect of a horticulture vocational training program for incarcerated individuals at Coleman - Low, a federal correctional institution in Sumter County, Florida.
Outstanding Chapter Leader - Stefan Liopiros, FWS
A true advocate for growing Florida’s nursery and landscape industry, Stefan Liopiros is referred to as FNGLA’s unofficial education ‘czar.’
A landscape designer who got his start in horticulture back in his native northern Virginia by loading plants and mulch into customers’ cars on weekends, Stefan and his high school sweetheart, Wendy, relocated to Florida after marrying 20 years ago.
An active member of FNGLA’s Frontrunners Chapter, Stefan is an encourager whose communication skills, dedication and can-do attitude make him a true leader.
Outstanding Educator - John Conroy
A believer in the notion, “a rising tide lifts all ships,” John Conroy maintains that sharing information seldom has a downside.
Prior to his start in horticulture more than 30 years ago, John taught middle schoolers for three years before the call of the outdoors brought him out of the classroom and into the tree-growing business.
This fifth-generation Floridian founded Fish Branch Tree Farm on property in Zolfo Springs which has been handed down through his family’s generations.
John, alongside his wife, Linda, grow several varieties of date palms and shade trees on the 325-acre property.