Wednesday, May 12, 2021
A Message from Terri Graham, Interim President, West and Downtown Campuses
Congratulations Javier Garces, professor of biology and horticulture, for being named the Outstanding Educator during the 2021 Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association’s (FNGLA) Industry Awards.
In addition to his role as professor, Javier has been the program chair for Valencia’s Plant Science and Agricultural Sciences (PSAT) Associate in Science degree program for more than 10 years.
“During that time, he has seen his ‘small but mighty’ Plant Science program blossom and grow under his leadership,” said Bob Gessner, dean of science.” Nominated by Denise DeBusk, another full-time professor in the PSAT program who we also thank for the recent growth of our PSAT program, Javier’s recognition is well deserved.”
Javier has been responsible for developing various community outreach projects. Work with the Edgewood Children’s Ranch — a non-denominational Christian home for children with emotional and/or behavioral issues — and the Central Care Mission — a long-term residential drug and alcohol program for men — were early successes in his teaching career at Valencia.
He represents the PSAT program at area Orange County Public Schools high schools, and he was instrumental in the planning and construction of the West Campus horticulture lab and greenhouse. Javier also leads the work and collaborates with our PSAT faculty and Robby Pletcher, lab supervisor, at Green Sky Growers Valencia College, our Winter Garden rooftop aquaponics lab.
Javier has served on the Valencia Sustainability Committee, the West Campus Undergraduate Research Committee, the Orange County Fair Horticulture Contest/Exhibit Planning Committee, the Tree Campus USA committee and has been a mentor to the Valencia Horticulture Club.
Additionally, he is very popular among his students.
“The number of students who express their gratitude for what Dr. Garces has taught them and for their success in the business community is humbling,” shared Bob. “The job placement rate for students in our PSAT program is also very high because of the respect the business community has for the program.”
When told that he would be receiving the award from the FNGLA, Javier said, “That I’m very surprised is an understatement. It’s a big honor to be recognized by one of the leading agriculture industry groups in the country. This really is the result of a team effort, from the PSAT program to the Science Division and to Valencia as a whole.”
Bob added, “There are few faculty members at Valencia who have such a wide-ranging impact on student learning in an academic program as has Javier.”
Javier will be formally congratulated during the Annual Membership Meeting at FNGLA’s Annual Convention, Friday, June 11 and Saturday, June 12, 2021, in St. Augustine.