I was fortunate to grow up on our family nursery in Canby, Oregon.
It is where I found a love of plants and the nursery industry, and has brought me to being your president of the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) this year.
If we have not met, let me introduce myself. My name is Jim Simnitt.
My father, Jerry Simnitt Sr., started our wholesale nursery, Simnitt Nursery, when I was young. I was able to play after school and have fun — but also get work done. I remember playing under the cutting table, then wanting to make the cuttings and help with planting.
After high school, I attended and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in horticulture. Prior to graduation, I worked an internship at a large independent garden center, and it gave me a valuable lesson.
Up to then, my practical nursery experience had been at our wholesale nursery — growing plants, loading trucks, and watching them drive off. Working at the garden center, we received those trucks and unloaded them. I saw how plants arrived and how they were displayed. Talking with retail customers really helped me understand what the end consumer wanted in their plants. I started to see a more complete picture of the nursery industry.
After my stint at the retail nursery, I returned home with a fresh perspective. When my father retired, I became part-owner of our family nursery along with my brother, Jerry Jr. My main exposure to the OAN was through my him.
He became involved with the Clackamas Chapter, volunteered on multiple committees, and eventually worked his way to serving one year as OAN president. Through his involvement, I saw how one could become a leader and a voice for the industry as a whole.
I started volunteering at the chapter level, as well as going to meetings and events. I was able to meet industry leaders from across the state and started to see the scope and reach of the association. I was always amazed that the Clackamas Chapter could host an event and have different chapter members from across the state show up in support.
I was able to serve on a number of committees. One was the Oregon Nursery Foundation Board, where we help seed and support the new leaders of the nursery industry with scholarships. As I got more involved with the OAN, I was able to sit on the Government Relations and Farwest Show committees. Both these committees do amazing work to promote our industry.
My involvement led me to the Board of Directors and then being asked to join the Executive Committee. Sitting on these boards, I have learned how extensive OAN represents and supports all its members. Whether we are promoting the Nursery Guide to help sell plants throughout the country, or acting as a reasoned voice with regulators to better help them understand our industry perspective, the association has our back.
I am really excited about this next year and being an advocate for the entire industry. Together we are the top agricultural sector in Oregon, and that holds weight. Our various boards are made up of familiar faces and some new faces; all fantastic volunteers.
I look forward to the successes and challenges that will come this year. Thank you for allowing me to be your president and I look forward to working with all of you.