Published on 03/02/17

Georgia Green Industry Association recognizes industry leaders from UGA with awards

By Sharon Dowdy

The Georgia Green Industry Association (GGIA) recently recognized University of Georgia professor John Ruter and UGA Cooperative Extension agent Keith Mickler for their service to the industry.

GGIA presented Ruter with the Vivian Munday/Buck Jones Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award, the association’s most prestigious honor. The award is presented only when a deserving individual has achieved a lifetime of accomplishments and contributions to the green industry, which includes horticulture, landscaping and lawn maintenance.

The Allan M. Armitage Endowed Professor for Herbaceous Plant Instruction and Introduction at UGA, Ruter teaches courses in plant breeding, plant identification and environmental issues in horticulture and serves as director of the Trial Gardens at UGA.

He received a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture from California Polytechnic State University, a master’s degree in ornamental horticulture and landscape design from the University of Tennessee and a doctorate in horticultural science from the University of Florida.

Ruter joined UGA in 2012 as the nursery crop research and Extension specialist at the UGA Tifton Campus, where he also chaired the Coastal Plain Research Arboretum.

His research focused on container production systems and plant nutrition. Ruter solved the mouse ear disorder on river birch, which led to nickel’s recognition as an essential plant micronutrient. His research on copper deficiency as the cause of little-leaf disorder of loropetalum has had a multimillion-dollar impact on the nursery industry.

Ruter co-authored the textbook “Introduction to Horticulture,” which is now in its fifth edition, and “Landscaping with Conifers and Ginkgo for the Southeast,” which won a literary award from the Garden Writers Association of Georgia.

His awards and honors include the Garden Clubs of Georgia Award of Merit, GGIA’s Educator of the Year Award, the Southern Nursery Association’s Porter Henegar Memorial Award and the D.W. Brooks Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, given by UGA. Ruter is also a graduate of the national LEAD21 agricultural leadership program and recently served as Southeast Region president of the American Conifer Society.

GGIA awarded the 2017 Communicator of the Year Award to Keith Mickler, Floyd County Extension coordinator. This award honors an individual who best serves the horticulture industry in Georgia through the media and other forms of promotion.

Mickler started his Extension career in 1994 with University of Florida Extension in Panama City, and in late 1998, he joined UGA Extension in Cairo, Georgia. Currently, Mickler works out of the UGA Extension office in Floyd County as the county coordinator and Agriculture and Natural Resources agent.

He was recognized by the Floyd County Board of Commissioners for solving agricultural and horticultural problems in a timely manner; conducting many best management practices, integrated pest management and pesticide safety educational programs; and providing entomological, pathological, physiological, soil and water analyses for area growers, according to a news release from the board.

“A testament to his service to the industry, he is recognized and appreciated beyond the boundaries of his district,” said GGIA Executive Director Chris Butts. “He lends his talents at industry functions across the state and goes above and beyond the call of duty as an agent. To growers and gardeners from all corners of Georgia, Mickler is well-known for his contributions and his commitment to communicating the good news about the green industry.”

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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