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Craig ThurmondNorth Georgia Technical College horticulture instructor Craig Thurmond was recently named 2018 Educator of the Year for the state of Georgia by the Georgia Green Industry Association (GGIA). The GGIA is a statewide trade association whose mission is to promote and advance the economic, lifestyle and environmental benefits of Georgia horticulture. Through education, legislative monitoring, certification exams, trade shows and conferences to the horticulture-related industries in the state, the GGIA is deeply rooted in the horticulture industry.

“When I was notified of the award I could not believe it,” said Thurmond. “I had to read the email three times before I could really even comprehend it.”

Currently President of Craig R. Thurmond Design & Associates, Thurmond has also been an instructor at NGTC since 2011. After receiving a bachelor of landscape architecture from the University of Georgia, he spent almost 27 years in the landscape consulting and construction industry with a focus on large-scale planning and resort design. Throughout his career he has worked in 10 countries and just about every state in the U.S. on projects like Downtown Disney in Orlando, Atlantis Casino in the Bahamas, The Equestrian Venue for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Isla San Jose in Panama, Tallulah State Park and many others.

Thurmond says he entered the classroom to assist the “green industry” in training for a stronger future with skills that he did not gain until on the job after college.

“I am passionate about making sure my students leave college with a sense for business, a strong work ethic and real world knowledge that will enable them to be successful members of the ‘green industry,’” says Thurmond.

NGTC Vice President of Academic Affairs Mindy Glander says the college could not be more proud of Craig. “His dedication to the program, students and related industry is inspiring,” said Glander. “Craig has enjoyed many accomplishments in his career, but I truly believe that teaching what he loves and knows so well has been his greatest achievement. Being acknowledged by peers from the horticulture industry is truly an honor and a terrific reflection of his commitment to the industry and education.”

Thurmond says this award means a great deal to him. “I take the educating and training of my students very seriously and know that the future of the green industry is dependent on the next generation,” says Thurmond. “For a member of the GGIA to have noticed my efforts with the students and to have nominated me for this award means so much to me.”

The award was presented at the GGIA Wintergreen Kickoff Breakfast in Lawrenceville as part of their annual conference. Fourteen NGTC Horticulture students also attended and assisted in moving in the trade show. The students also hosted a booth at the show where they promoted the programs offered at NGTC. Ron Deal, volunteer coordinator with GGIA, said he was very pleased with the student volunteers from North Georgia Tech and how diligently they worked at the conference.

Students attending the conference included Hector Baldera of Mountain City, Isabelle Hitchcock of Lookout Mountain, Michael Dunnell of Clermont, Madison Gibbs of Sautee Nacoochee, Ryan Puddington of Gainesville, Daniel Gamble of Mount Airy, Daniel Schnitzer of Lakemont, Juan Navarrete of Clarkesville, Corey McDonald and Stephanie Smith of Toccoa, Mark Holmes, Vicki Nicely, Tyler Rocky and Seth Scott of Cleveland, and Lab Assistant John Mather.