Reaping Aggie Benefits, Sowing Seeds for Success
July 16, 2013
Class of 2004 Ag funds scholarship in honor of horticulture professor and academic advisor
|Jed Waltemathe '04 at the flagship Circle D Nursery in Bryan, Texas.|
As a student, Jed Waltemathe ’04 spent much of his time working for the Department of Horticulture with top professors and mentors in his field. Though he didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do, he knew that learning more about horticulture would unearth his passion.
“I wanted as much on the job training as possible. I wanted to be with people who worked in the field in which I was interested,” he said.
Waltemathe worked with several industry leaders before and after graduation, including Hines Nurseries and Landmark Nurseries in Houston, learning from their successes before attempting to venture into his own enterprise. And in 2008, he opened Circle D Nurseries, a re-wholesale nursery that services professional landscapers and commercial accounts throughout Central Texas. With the flagship nursery in Bryan thriving, he opened a second location in Leander, Texas, last year.
“I believe when you get, you should give,” Waltemathe said. This year, he gave back by establishing an endowed scholarship through the Texas A&M Foundation for horticulture students. “I don’t feel I could ever give back enough to Texas A&M to repay what it gave me,” he said. The scholarship is named for and honors his academic advisor Sharon Duray and retired Texas A&M horticulture professor Dr. Don Wilkerson.“It would be hard to express the impact Sharon and Dr. Wilkerson had in my life,” Waltemathe said. “I wouldn't be where I am today were it not for the help and the wealth of knowledge they shared with me.”
Duray navigated Waltemathe through the murky waters of class choices so that he could achieve his goals. “I trusted her to advise me without question because she was always a few steps ahead of me,” he said.
|Sharon Duray and Dr. Don Wilkerson|
During her 28 years as an academic advisor in the Department of Horticulture, Duray was recognized for her outstanding service to students with the Ed Guthrie Award for advising in 2003, the Vice Chancellor’s Award in Excellence in 2005 and the President’s Meritorious Service Award in 2006.
Waltemathe credits Wilkerson, who advised him through the process of opening his own business, with the fast-paced success of Circle D. “Being able to consult with Dr. Wilkerson has been priceless,” he said.
“As a student, Jed recognized the value of getting to know his professors and continued using them as resources following graduation,” Wilkerson said. “Jed patiently laid the groundwork to pave the way to his success.”
During his appointment with the Texas Cooperative Extension, Wilkerson worked closely with growers throughout the state on cultural and management problems, primarily dealing with environmental issues concerning the nursery/floral industry. At Texas A&M, Wilkerson received the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association’s (TNLA) Staff Award and TNLA’s Arp award for his outstanding service and dedication to the Texas nursery/floral/landscape industry.
Duray and Wilkerson have been equally appreciative of Waltemathe. “We are very proud of Jed's accomplishments,” Duray said. “Most importantly, Jed is a great guy, a loyal Aggie, and an asset to the horticulture industry and Texas A&M University—he’s the total package.”
Waltemathe hopes his scholarship will support Aggie students pursuing careers in the green industry in the same way he was supported by the people in the horticulture department. “By recognizing students with this scholarship I hope it will give them the confidence to open their own businesses someday and help them realize success is a combined effort involving the support of many people and prayer,” he said.
|Shelby Hollaway '14|
Shelby Hollaway ’14 is the first recipient of the Don Wilkerson and Sharon Duray Scholarship, and her own connection to Duray makes the scholarship that much more special to her.
“This particular scholarship touched my heart greatly,” Hollaway said. “Ms. Duray was my favorite person in the horticulture department, and she was always there to help me out with whatever problems I had.”
Hollaway said the scholarship will help her family afford her education, which she hopes will lead her into a career in the wine industry. She plans to get a job at a vineyard in North Texas when she graduates in December.
And maybe one day she’ll follow in more of Waltemathe’s footsteps.
“The fact that the scholarship is in the name of two people who have meant so much, not only in my life, but in the life of many former students, will hopefully inspire others to one day give back,” Waltemathe said.
By Joanna Raines ’14You can support research efforts in Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a gift of an endowment to the Texas A&M Foundation. Request your A&M Support Kit to learn how your gift can make a difference.