Owens Community College Associate Professor of Science Chris Foley of Swanton has been chosen by the Professional Landcare Network Academic Excellence Foundation to receive the prestigious 2012 Outstanding Educator of the Year Award for exemplary contributions and dedication to students and green industry education.
The award, developed by PLANET AEF and PLANET Accreditation Committee, recognizes professors who have made significant contributions to green industry education. Educators nominated for this award are recognized for devoting time, energy and enthusiasm to their programs and to the education of future leaders of the industry.
“I am honored to be mentioned with the previous Educator of the Year recipients and grateful for the amount of effort that my current students, alumni and faculty members put into the application process,” said Foley. “It is important to me that students find their passion like I have. Thank you PLANET for acknowledging educators in the green industry.”
Foley began his career in the green industry as an employee at Frank’s Nursery in Clawson, Mich. He later earned his bachelor’s degree in horticulture science from Michigan State University in 1982. After graduating from Michigan State, he worked at The Andersons in Toledo. From there, Foley began his 22-year educational teaching career at Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township, whose programs include urban agriculture and sustainability, golf course and athletic field management, and landscape and turfgrass management.
Students and peers describe him as being extremely passionate about the subjects he teaches and having the ability to pass that enthusiasm on to his students. Additionally, he works tirelessly in advocating for experiential learning opportunities for his students highlighted by coordinating landscape installation projects involving area residents. Foley leads student plant sale activities, which helps support the Owens Student Landscape Turfgrass Crew Club’s participation in the annual PLANET Student Career Days. The event is a national horticultural and landscape competition involving over 50 colleges and universities across the country.
His passion and enthusiasm extends beyond the classroom as he oversees a nursery in Swanton, which focuses on the production of rare and unusual trees and shrubs.
PLANET is an international association serving lawn care professionals, landscape management contractors, design/build/installation professionals and interior plantscapers. Over 3,800 green industry professionals are members of the PLANET.