Carlos Cruz joined our team late summer 2017, and went right to work learning the ropes of canyard organization, preparing large container orders, packing trucks and trailers for delivery, and winter plant storage. He tries his best to apply technology to the job wherever he can - though our systems aren't always very "tech friendly".
He pays special attention to efficiency and tries to apply it in all processes. He also sets goals for himself and the crew working with him. Maintenance and Pest Control are also on his "to-do" lists and he is never without a project - or pest - to tend to!
Brielle Lubbess, Carlos' wife, started part-time with us in October of 2018, filling in where needed with large and small container orders. Thinning and cleaning plants, helping with winter plant storage and heading up our National Arbor Day tree shipping program have been some of her other duties, and she is also enjoying learning about the seed stratification process. Her willingness to jump in wherever needed is greatly appreciated.
Moving to Washington from Georgia, they keep busy exploring the area with their 2 young boys, Matthew and Caleb, and Brielle also volunteers with the local ambulance service.
Leonarda Ramirez began in the spring of 2004. Sowing, thinning, cleaning, pulling, packing and shipping are just some of her daily duties. She takes great pride in her work and in making sure that each order goes out looking good and - most importantly - correct! Sowing seed by hand is no easy task, yet each spring she tackles the project with precision, enthusiasm and patience!! It takes a special person to be able to do the job, and we are so thankful for Leo and her dedication to getting the job done.
When she's not in the nursery, Leo and her husband Pablo spend their free time doing yard work and housework for others in the area, and enjoying family time with their 4 kids.
LaDonna Sienknecht has now officially been on staff for about 13 years. Coming from a background of owning her own hair salon for 18 years, she understands the bottom line: If you aren't working, you aren't earning!!
She isn't afraid of hard work or long hours, and is willing to do what ever it takes to get a job done. Quickly working into a management position seemed natural for her.Having her communicate with 'the office' to see that jobs are getting done, quotas being met and projects are on schedule has been a positive thing for everyone. LaDonna and Leo work side-by-side preparing and packing orders, as well as sowing, thinning and cleaning plants.
Besides her time spent at the nursery, LaDonna has been a volunteer EMT with the Tekoa Ambulance for nearly 27 years, and spends any extra time with her dog, Blue and grandsons Zeke & Eli.
Chris Norton came on-board in the fall of 2017 as well. Transplanting large stock and putting plants inside for winter storage were some of his first duties with us - not his favorites. But after being here for a full season +, he now understands why those jobs are so important to what is going to happen the rest of the year. And we've convinced him it wasn't intentional torture.
Pulling canyard orders, loading the truck and trailer for delivery are now part of Chris's regular job description. And entertainment!! He is never without a joke or a story - or any combination of the 2 - to leave us all either laughing or shaking our heads!!
Living in Tekoa has been a crash-course in small town living for a "big-city" guy (okay, anything bigger than Tekoa), but he and his girlfriend are content raising their fur babies and he feels right at home here.
Paul Williams has been with Plants of the Wild since 1996. Growing up in Illinois, Paul said his love of plants started when he began mowing lawns at a tender age. Working in grounds maintenance and as a landscaper as well as for the forest service allowed him to experience nature on many different levels, and he got to experience first hand how the plants relate to each other and compliment one another.
Watering, fertilizing and pest control in the greenhouses keep Paul busy as well as any special projects that come along. He is always ready and willing to listen to customer's questions, concerns and ideas and is helpful in guiding them in making good planting choices.
In his free time, he spends time hiking the fields and hills around the area with his dog. Paul is an avid gardener and each year has a bounty from his vegetable garden that he shares with many.
Kathy Hutton, Nursery Manager - and Fearless Leader - has been with the nursery since 1987. Her knowledge of native plants, which was passed down to her from her late father, has been a perfect fit here at Plants of the Wild. As she says, "My dad was into natives before it was the cool thing to do", and he shared that love with Kathy. After college, when her husband applied for a job in Tekoa as a Vo. Ag. teacher she couldn't imagine what a Horticulture degree could be used for in Tekoa, of all places... then she heard about a small nursery, just down the road. The rest, as they say, is history!
She began working in the greenhouses soon after, and quickly worked her way to the top. Her leadership, patience and guidance have been invaluable to each of the employees as they have found their place at the nursery. Along with her husband Dan, Kathy enjoys entertaining and gardening, spending time at both Clear Lake and Big Creek with family and friends, and of course keeping up with daughters Kayla & Jordyn, son-in-laws Ryan & Madison, and granddaughters Brooklyn & Brexley!
Carrie Garcia, Assistant Nursery Manager, began working for Seeds, Inc. and Plants of the Wild while still in High School. After college she came back to the nursery for "a couple of weeks" while going to some interviews, and she hasn't looked back! That was in 1994. Carrie has enjoyed learning "Tricks of the Trade" in seed stratification, shipping, sales, nursery management, and is also the receptionist for Seeds, Inc. Some of her other duties include managing the POTW website, online updates, billing, inventory, and processing online orders. Seeds keeps her especially busy during grass seed harvest & she enjoys working with both the field men and growers to get all the details for their crop!
Most of her free time is spent keeping up with nephew's Zeke & Eli, and for her, being a "Titi" is a full time job! Road trips and searching for treasures at any little thrift store or yard sale along the way has become a new pastime that her boyfriend introduced her to, and now she's forever on the hunt for something to repurpose and decorate with! So much junk, so little time!
Various paths and decisions have brought each of us to Plants of the Wild.
We remind ourselves regularly that we are all here for the same reason,
we just didn't take the same route.
Our purpose is to provide you, our valued customer, with the best possible product for the best value. Native plants that thrive in your projects are the reason that we are here, and we take pride in the success of YOUR projects.
We feel very fortunate that our team is made up of so many experienced folks! That makes progress and production so much easier, even in the busiest times.
Here is a peek behind the sceens!