DENVER, Colo. – Colorado’s landscape industry association, Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC), announced the recipients of its 2017 Volunteer Service Awards.
This year, Bill Cary, an educator at Pickens Technical College, and Kristen Fefes, CAE, former ALCC executive director, received a Bob Cannon Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Bob Cannon Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have given loyal, dedicated service to the landscape industry, contributed ideas, programs and other endeavors to benefit other ALCC members, and have improved the professional image of the landscape industry. It was named for Bob Cannon in 1978, an ALCC founder and visionary.
Cary has taught horticulture at Pickens Technical College in Aurora for 25 years. He has been instrumental in developing industry certification programs that emphasize professionalism and helped launch the ALCC’s Landscape Career Pathways Program, which equips high school students for landscape careers upon graduation.
Kristen Fefes, CAE, who served as ALCC’s executive director for 18 years, received a 2017 Bob Cannon Lifetime Achievement Award. Fefes guided the association through the major drought of 2002/2003. She worked with industry leaders, water providers and members to ensure the landscape industry was part of the solution. Other key issues Fefes spearheaded included updates of the GreenCO Best Management Practices – and helping to establish the BMP Training/Testing program. She also worked on various legislative issues including maintaining the H-2B visa program.
She was the recipient of the 2015 Lawn and Landscapes Leadership Award and the 2016 American Society of Association Executives Award.
The association's Outlook Emerging Leader Award went to Matt Hiner of Colorado Springs-based Hiner Landscapes.
The Outlook Emerging Leader Award recognizes a person less than 40 years old working in landscape or horticulture, who has made a significant contribution to the industry and to ALCC. Since 2006, the award has recognized an up-and-coming member of the association as “one to watch” in the coming years.
Like 58 percent of Colorado’s landscape professionals, Hiner entered the landscape industry while he was in high school and worked his way up in the field to become the owner of Hiner Landscapes.
After being laid off from his job during the 2008-09 economic downturn, Hiner took his last $300 and developed a logo and printed business cards. He distributed them at a home and garden show and his business was launched. The business has grown steadily over the years and Hiner recently opened a retail water gardening store selling supplies and fish. The store also serves as the design center for the landscape business.
Hiner possesses a “pay it forward attitude” by being actively involved in ALCC’s Southern Chapter in Colorado Springs and its Day of Service program. Day of Service is an annual event, held on or around Earth Day, where chapter members volunteer their time and expertise to improve an outdoor space within the community.
Hiner managed the 2016 Day of Service project at Harrison School District Two, and oversaw the construction of outdoor learning labs (workstations) where students learn basic landscape skills that enable them to begin a career in the landscape industry right out of high school.
The landscape industry gives Hiner a chance to be innovative and creative. “My favorite project of all time was a 400-square-foot back yard where we met the client’s entire wish list.”
Hiner also serves on the ALCC board of directors. “Matt’s work ethic and fresh perspective are of great value to our industry,” said John McMahon, ALCC executive director.
The Stanley Brown Associate Member Distinguished Service Award was given posthumously to Dave Nelson, former director of sales and marketing at CPS Distributors, Inc.
The Stanley Brown Distinguished Associate Member Award recognizes a supplier for outstanding commitment to ALCC and to the industry. In 2008, the award was first given to its namesake, Stanley Brown, Jr. of Alameda Wholesale Nursery, Inc.
In 1996, Nelson joined CPS Distributors and worked in the territory sales throughout Colorado and Wyoming, serving as sales manager and ultimately, became part owner of the firm and the director of sales and marketing. During his career, he was involved in the industry in ALCC’s Southern Chapter. He passed away about four months ago.
Nelson was honored for fostering partnerships and solidarity in the landscape industry. He bridged the supplier and customer relationship to create family by serving his clients “like a brother.”
“Dave was one of our suppliers whose presence created solidarity, partnership and camaraderie within the landscape industry,” said John McMahon, ALCC executive director.
Nelson’s wife Patti, son Patrick, sister Cathy and longtime friend and colleague Lowell Kaufhold, president of CPS Distributors, accepted the award.
And last but not least, Michael Womochil, program director for agriculture, energy and natural resources with the Colorado Community College System, received the John Garvey Person of the Year Award.
Created in 1997 and named for its first recipient, John Garvey, CLT, the Garvey Award recognizes an individual who has provided outstanding volunteer service during the past year. The Garvey recipient is someone who always steps up to the plate to help the industry, regardless of the amount of responsibility and effort involved.
Womochil helped ALCC launch its Landscape Career Pathways Program in 2014. The program was created in response to a shortage of skilled workers in the landscape industry. Through a partnership with Colorado Community College System, ALCC offers Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers hands-on training in basic landscape skills so they can apply these lessons in the classroom. The program provides skills needed for students to be hired directly out of high school and begin upwardly mobile careers. Womochil worked with ALCC volunteers to create four landscape industry career paths and execute the training program.
“Every high school student needs to connect with a career that feeds their passion. This connection with landscape was not happening in our Colorado high schools when we started the Landscape Pathways Program a few years ago,” said Womochil. “Now that has changed.”
Through the Colorado Community College System, Womochil works with 130 high school teachers in 115 schools to deliver agriculture and horticulture programs to more than 6,000 students annually.
“Through our Landscape Career Pathways Program, ALCC is beginning to reach those 6,000 students thanks to our partnership with the Community College System and Michael. His commitment to bringing educators together with our industry will produce long-term benefits for the landscape industry statewide,” said John McMahon, ALCC Executive Director.