Up-and-coming leaders awarded

Garden City Plastics employee and Cranbourne East resident, Olumuyiwa Akintola Elliott. Pictures: SUPPLIED

Casey left the Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria (NGIV) 2023 Annual Horticultural Industry Awards Night glowing with pride after Cranbourne East resident Olumuyiwa Akintola Elliott and Narre Warren East business Speciality Trees were awarded for their outstanding contributions and achievements within the horticultural industry.

Cranbourne East resident and Dandenong Garden City Plastics’ employee Olumuyiwa Akintola Elliott was named Young Horticulture Leader of the Year at the prestigious awards ceremony.

Mr Akintola Elliott was acknowledged for his capability, commitment, and vision, to become a future leader.

He received the award from NGIV CEO, Craig Taberner, who thanked him for his dedication to the Victorian horticulture industry.

Through the application process it became clear that Akintola Elliott had an “unwavering commitment to continuous learning and research”.

“As a category manager, I have interacted extensively with growers across Victoria and Australia – from propagation nurseries in far north Queensland to large tree growers in southeast Victoria,” Mr Akintola Elliott said in his application for the award.

“As I continue to develop and demonstrate leadership qualities, my goal is to continue to inspire change within my industry and that has an everlasting effect.

With hard work, dedication, leadership skills and exceptional contributions in Horticulture, I believe I make an ideal candidate for Young Horticulture Leader of the Year honour – not only as recognition for my own achievements but as motivation to young migrants, students, and emerging horticulturists in my industry.”

Narre Warren East’s Speciality Trees took home two of the night’s most illustrious awards.

Speciality Trees were recognised with the Commitment to Environmental Stewardship Award and the Horticulture Student of the Year Award, which was awarded to Speciality Trees employee and Swinburne University of Technology student, Jacob Chizik.

Speciality Trees operates on 3 different nursery sites in Victoria, producing trees in a variety of ways, utilising sustainable horticultural management techniques.

Their application for the award outlined the values underpinning their practices.

They pride themselves on “understanding the environmental aspects and impacts of business activities upon the community and industry in which [they] operate, changing the way [they] operate through innovation, development and technology and ensuring at all times that both staff and external contractors are aware of [their] expectations”.

Mr Chizik was acknowledged for his career and study achievements, team and communication skills, and his ability to be a representative for the horticulture industry.

Through the application process it became clear that Mr Chizik had an “an appreciation for how horticulture draws upon many elements to bring a quality product to the market”.

“This industry is part of the solution for climate change, and we need to grow and plant more green life,” Mr Chizik said in his application.

“This makes horticulture a forward-moving and vibrant industry to be involved in.

“It is important to recognise that we all work with living things that need specific requirements to thrive in the environment, as well as routine care and maintenance for long-term survivability, functionality, and enjoyment.”

The Victorian horticultural industry contributes more than $2.5 billion annually to the economy.

Industry members continue to play their part in supporting the state and the national economy, environment, and community.

The NGIV said it is “through recognising high achieving members, as well as those setting exceptional standards” the nation moves towards further developing the Victorian industry as a leader across the country.