Seed World

AAS Salutes Industry Achievers

At its annual awards banquet in Janesville, Wisconsin, All-America Selections (AAS) recognized Jim Nau of Ball Horticultural Company and Janika Eckert of Johnny’s Selected Seeds, two “horticulture luminaries.”

Nau was awarded the AAS Medallion of Honor, which is presented to an individual who has given a lifelong dedication to the advancement of horticulture. Nau started his career in June 1982 right out of college where he earned his degree from Iowa State University.  The Gardens of Ball have evolved and thrived under Jim’s 34 years of managing those showplace gardens. Jim’s work in The Gardens of Ball has earned him a stellar reputation as a knowledgeable plantsman, an author of multiple books and countless articles.

As a long time judge, Jim has given many hours to the organization even before taking on the additional roles of director, vice president, president and then past-president, said Ball Seed’s Jan Patranella during the award presentation. Patranella also served as an All-America Selections judge.

Eckert, too, was recognized for her contributions to the industry with the AAS Breeders Cup — established in 2004 to recognize a plant breeder who dramatically influenced horticulture by breeding new cultivars that brought significant improvements to those classes.

Eckert’s first AAS Winner was Diva cucumber in 2002. That was followed quickly by Carmen pepper in 2006 then Escamillo and Cornito Giallo peppers earlier this year. Originally from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Eckert was especially pleased to return to her home state in 2016 to accept her award.

The banquet culminated a three-day event where industry representatives, judges, breeders, growers, retailers and resellers gathered to visit AAS Trial Grounds and Display Gardens near Madison, Wisconsin. Tour stops included the University of Wisconsin’s West Madison Research Station, Epic Systems’ sustainable landscape, A.P. Whaley’s vegetable trials, Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Song Sparrow Nursery and Rotary Botanical Gardens.