People Who Strengthen CNGA and the Industry

Each year, CNGA recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to CNGA and the industry. The following awards are presented to individuals each year at the annual Industry Celebration:

Hall of Fame - This prestigious award is presented to an individual who, throughout their career, has demonstrated leadership and commitment resulting in overall improvements to the industry.

Person of the Year - This award recognizes 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.

Horizon - This 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.

Exemplary Service Award - Given to 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.

2020 Award Winners

Andrew Lisignoli, NMCNP, Trees of Corrales | Hall of Fame Award
Andrew’s horticultural career spans more than 50 years and a variety of experiences in four states. Arriving in New Mexico in 1979, Andrew managed a retail garden center, owned a landscape contracting business in Santa Fe, and became a New Mexico Certified Nursery Professional (NMCNP #113). His heart lies in nursery production and the challenge to provide trees and other plants that will succeed in the landscape. Andrew is a strong advocate for our industry in NM, always participating and leading the conversation within the community and with stakeholders. He was instrumental in developing the NM chapter of CNGA and has served as senator for the New Mexico Chapter of the Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association where he won the Person of the Year award in 2010. A member of the NM State Urban Forest Council for over 15 years, he has served on the Board of Directors of Think Trees New Mexico for over 20 years and is currently its President. 

Michelle Krumdieck| Hall of Fame Award (posthumously)

Michelle passed away unexpectedly in early 2020 but was a huge part of our industry and served the industry to the very end. She worked her way up in the industry creating relationships and camaraderie between nurseries that otherwise would not exist. Michelle graduated with a degree in Horticulture Therapy from Kansas State University. She worked in the green industry in Colorado for 20 years, starting with Gulley Greenhouse, then on to Ft. Collins Wholesale Nursery and later with her own tree and shrub wholesale company, Sunshine Horticulture, which she represented Loma Visa Nursery and Oregon Pride. She became a Colorado Certified Nursery Professional in 2006 and joined the CNGA board in 2016. Her personality and life impacted many – she could make anyone’s day better by her amazing positive energy and her true love for what she did and those around her. “The horticulture industry has lost a very bright star, and will not be the same without her. I only hope that those touched by her spirit never lose what she brought to those around her: joy, laughter, fun, and love.” – Past CNGA President, Dan Wise.  With this award she will not be forgotten. 

Keith Williamson, CCNP, Little Valley Wholesale Nursery | Person of the Year Award

Keith has spent the last 38 years in Colorado’s nursery industry, with the first 6½ in the retail sector before joining Little Valley Wholesale Nursery, where he is currently the Inventory Control Manager. Keith was among the first group to take and pass the Colorado Certified Nursery Professional test in the fall of 1986. He was asked to provide pressed samples for the second test in 1987, and has since compiled a collection of 216 samples for CNGA. Keith has been teaching certification preparatory seminars in plant identification and basic landscape design since they began in 1994.  

Jeremy Valdez, CCNP, JV Trees | Person of the Year Award

Jeremy is an Independent Sales Representative for Hollandia Nursery & Teton Trees. He has been in the CO green industry for his entire career of 21 years, selling nursery stock the past 16 (5 years locally and the past 11 years as an independent, selling regionally). Jeremy has been active with the CCNP committee for the past 11 years. When he is not working, he enjoys everything Colorado's great outdoors has to offer; snowboarding as much as possible in the winter and hiking, biking, and camping during the summers with his amazing wife Sarah and dog Wilson.

Nate Douglas, CCNP, Arbor Valley Nursery | Person of the Year Award

Nate has worked at Arbor Valley Nursery’s Franktown location for 3 years as Sales Manager. Prior to that Nate worked in most facets of the green industry over the past 20 years in Colorado and Ohio.  He went to Ohio State University for English Education. After that he went to University of Toledo College of Law.  Despite this non-traditional educational background, Nate has worked in the landscape industry since age 12. He started out planting saplings on reclamation project, then over the years moved into landscape maintenance, softscapes installation, plant health care, and finally tree care before moving into the nursery industry, which is what he really loves. He enjoys hiking 14ers on weekends and (pre-Covid) enjoyed live music. 

Craig Breuker , Pine Lane Nursery | Horizon Award
Craig started at Pine Lane Nursery as a laborer and then grew into the Purchasing and Inventory Specialist role. He has worked there for 2, going on 3, years now. Prior to that he worked construction landscaping in Fort Collins during college. In high school he mowed lawns and did small scale landscape projects. Craig graduated from Colorado State University in 3.5 years, in December of 2018. He majored in Business Administration with an emphasis on Innovation and Organization, minored in Human Resources and obtained certificates in Entrepreneurship and International Business. Outside of work, he loves to camp, hang with friends, ski/ snowboard, watch and play sports, and play with his dog Blue.

  Pixie Caballero, Echter's Nursery & Garden Center | Horizon Award

Pixie started working at Echter’s Garden Center in 2019, beginning as a cashier.  She has moved up to Merchandise Manager of Echter’s Gift and Garden Décor area. Pixie’s warm and cheerful personality is welcomed by her co-workers as well as the many customers she serves. As Echter’s adapted to the COVID restrictions last spring, Pixie contributed greatly to setting up and maintaining the online store. This was a huge endeavor that she embraced with her characteristic good humor and enthusiasm.  In addition, she has been busy transforming the gift department into a beautiful and relevant space that is appealing to our wide range of customers. She has audited 3 CSU non-credit horticultural courses.  Soils, Insects & How do Plants Grow. This is a woman with talent, drive, enthusiasm and positive energy that knows no bounds.  

Jessica McCool, Little Valley Wholesale Nursery | Horizon Award

Jessica is the Assistant Production Manager at Little Valley Wholesale Nursery. As fate would have it, Jessica McCool started work just two days before the Colorado statewide stay at home order was issued. Her job is to assist the Production Manager and oversee both the woody plant production and balled-and-burlapped department crews. Through the course of this past year, Jessica has shown considerable strength of will and character in her ability to manage and direct the mostly Spanish-speaking crews through their crew leaders, especially so for having started during the stressful spring season. She has also brought a new and refreshing perspective to the job, coming up with ideas to streamline established practices and increase production and maintenance efficiency. In the aftermath of a damaging storm, Jessica again demonstrated her strength and perseverance as she worked on the cleanup and replacement of balled-and-burlapped stock. She is a firm, but compassionate manager of the labor force, and has made a remarkable difference in just one year's time.

Alex Norell, Gulley Greenhouse | Horizon Award

Alex is the Young Plant Head Grower at Gulley Greenhouses. In his short time at Gulley, Alex has shown an amazing ability to learn and apply new information. He has learned all facets of rooting and propagating young plants, and is now in a position to mentor other growers in these areas. He has a natural 'plant sense' and has a deep understanding of plant growth in a short time. Beth Gulley says “Alex is the best motivational leader we've ever had in this position, coordinating locations with our inventory team and offering guidance to the other growers. He has set our standard of quality higher than ever in order to give customers an excellent product. He is always looking for new innovative ideas to try, and most importantly keeping the business side of horticulture in mind as he makes his decisions.” With no real greenhouse training he has already far surpassed others that have had his position in the past. Alex is a natural and we can't wait to see what he does in the rest of his career! He has a passion for plants and we believe growers like him will change the industry for the better.

Jim Mueller, CPS Distributors, Inc. | Exemplary Service Award

Jim and the team at CPS Distributors in Westminster have generously allowed CNGA to use their conference room and facility for our Certification Programs and other functions. With the limitations of this past year on gatherings, it was important to be able to continue to hold our certification classes in a safe and socially distanced space. Jim & his colleagues at CPS never said no when we asked! Jim also has supported our industry in other ways, by participating in the CHREF Golf Tournament, sponsoring Member BBQs and speaking at CNGA workshops.

Ross Shrigley, CCNP, Plant Select | Exemplary Service Award

Ross is the Executive Director of Plant Select. Ross's passion for horticulture and gardening began at Colorado State University. He earned his biology degree in 1994 and went on to own a small gardening business that he operated for seven years.  In 2005 Ross became a horticulturist at Denver Botanic Gardens where he managed several gardens including the O'Fallon Perennial Border, Dwarf Conifer Berm, Ornamental Grass Garden, and the Mordecai Children's Garden. In 2012, Ross accepted a position closer to home with Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery serving as their Outside Sales Representative. Ross is a seasoned gardener with a breadth and depth of experience in the world of horticulture. He now serves as the Executive Director of Plant Select®- a nonprofit collaboration of Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens, and professional horticulturists. Ross has really taken charge and introduced and promoted so many new plants in a short amount of time. His passion for the industry is unwavering and dedication is admirable.   

Previous Award Winners

Award winners are nominated by CNGA members. If you know someone worthy of an award consideration, please complete this form.