President's Letter: Celebrate the Wins

April 4, 2022

Ignorance is bliss…or so they say. Being an informed person definitely has a dark side. Regardless of your information source(s) and whether you watch, read, or listen to the news, we are often inundated with more negative stories than positive ones. Between the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the latest COVID-19 variant, labor and immigration issues, gas prices, supply chain challenges, etc., etc., it is easy to feel like we should just tune it all out. But tuning it all out also means missing out on opportunities to celebrate the good news.

No matter how big or small, taking time to celebrate wins and allowing ourselves time to experience gratitude for the good moments is a great way to cope with our challenges. So, this month I want to highlight some industry milestones and recent wins worth celebrating!

FNGLA Celebrates its 70th Anniversary

On May 25, 1952, the first official meeting of the ‘Florida Nurserymen & Growers Association’ kicked off in Miami. In 2004, ‘Landscape’ was added to the FNGA moniker – creating the ‘FNGLA’ we know and love today. Over the years, FNGLA has established itself as the largest state nursery and landscape association in the country, representing more than 1,500 members across seven divisions (Allied, Citrus Nursery, Floriculture, Foliage, Garden Center, Landscape and Woody). Cheers to FNGLA – 70 never looked so good!

See more about FNGLA’s 70-year history here.

UF/IFAS Turfgrass Science Program Turns 100!

April has been designated as National Lawn Care month.  So, it seems extra appropriate to highlight that the University of Florida’s program to further turfgrass research and education is celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2022. Congratulations UF Turfgrass Science for reaching this remarkable milestone!

Wedgworth Celebrates its 30th Anniversary

The Wedgworth Leadership Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources develops and refines the leadership skills necessary to help our industry thrive today and into the future. The program held its first seminar in March 1992. Since then, it has helped mold several FNGLA leaders including staff member Linda Adams, and Past Presidents Lori Frazee, Mike Marshall, Halsey Beshears, Billy Butterfield, Sandy Stein, Will Womack, and Martin Hackney. The current class also includes FNGLA VIPs Marcella Lucio-Chinchilla, Phillip Hisey, Heather Blake and Peter James.

I, too, am a proud alumnus of the Wedgworth Leadership Institute and can honestly say without its influence, I would not be serving as your current FNGLA President.  Happy Anniversary, Wedgworth!

Surpassing $30 Billion in Economic Output

According to the 2020 Economic Impact & Outlook Report, our Florida nursery and landscape industry produced a whopping $31.4 billion in total output sales in 2020. This growth represents a $10 billion increase since the last full economic impact study in 2015. Our industry also created nearly 34,000 new jobs between 2015 and 2020.

FNGLA has long and proudly proclaimed Florida’s environmental horticulture sector to be a ‘small business industry with a big business impact’ on Florida’s economy. This latest report shows we have plenty to celebrate! Thank you to Farm Credit of Central Florida for partnering with FNGLA on this latest economic impact report.

Legislative Victories

This legislative session in our state capital included several big wins for FNGLA’s funding and policy priorities. Thank you to FNGLA’s lobbyist Jim Spratt and our many agricultural and small business allied associations for their collaborative effort in supporting these priorities.

A few examples include:

  • $2.5 million to expand education and promotion of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program
  • $35 million for the FDACS Office of Agriculture Water Policy for BMP implementation
  • Legislation passed to allow certified crop advisors to recommend preferred fertilizer rates to tailor nutrient application rates.
  • Legislation to stop local governments from presuming agricultural properties are contaminated simply because pesticides were applied on any part of them
  • At the federal level, congress included language granting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security the discretionary authority to release additional H-2B non-agricultural seasonal worker visas.

While we’re celebrating, it feels appropriate to mention it’s time to register for FNGLA’s Annual Convention! Convention is a time to highlight the past year’s successes while welcoming FNGLA's new leadership taking office. This year marks an extra special occasion as we’ll not only be welcoming FNGLA’s new volunteer leaders, but we’ll also be recognizing the changing of the guard for FNGLA’s CEO!

So, join us in at the convention as we’ll be celebrating the retirement of our 24-year veteran CEO, Ben Bolusky, and welcoming new CEO Tal Coley!


Happy Spring,


Sarah Spatola


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