MURRAY, Ky. — For the second year in a row, the Murray State University Horticulture Judging Team brought home first place overall and earned 11 additional top placings in five categories at the Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science Judging Contest held in Louisville, Kentucky, in January. 

The team received high marks in plant knowledge as well as accolades for their leadership as a collegiate student organization, earning third place overall in the outstanding horticulture club category.

There were 35 contestants representing six universities in the southern region of the U.S., including Texas A&M University, Auburn University, Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Arkansas, Southern Illinois University and Murray State University. 

For the second year in a row, the Murray State University Horticulture Judging Team brought home first place overall and earned 11 additional top placings in five categories at the Southern Region of the American Society for Horticultural Science Judging Contest held in Louisville, Kentucky, in January. Pictured in the front row from left are team members Allie Maternowski, Meg Garner, Abbie Kearins and Skye Drane. Pictured in the back is University professor and team coach Dava Hayden.

Competing members of the Murray State University Judging Team included: 

  • Ashleigh (Skye) Drane, junior horticulture major and club vice president from Versailles, Kentucky
  • Abagail (Abbie) Kearins, senior horticulture major and 2019 interim club president from Louisville, Kentucky
  • Allie Maternoski, freshman horticulture major and club member from Cerulean, Kentucky
  • Mary (Meg) Garner, freshman horticulture major and club social media chair from Danville, Indiana

The team was coached by Dava Hayden, University horticulture instructor and club advisor. 

In addition to the team receiving first place overall, they also received the following awards: 

  • First place in vegetable crops judging
  • Second place in woody ornamental identification
  • Second place in greenhouse floral and foliage plant identification
  • Second place in fruit and nut judging

Individual team members took home the following awards:

  • Skye Drane (first place overall individually for the second year in a row, first place in vegetable crops, second place in greenhouse floral and foliage identification, second place in fruit and nut crop judging)
  • Meg Garner (first place in vegetable crop judging)
  • Allie Maternowski (second place in fruit and nut crop judging)
  • Abbie Kearins (third place in woody ornamentals identification)

“I am very proud of these young women,” Hayden said. “These four ladies are future leaders for the horticulture industry. Each of these ladies maintained professionalism, dedication and poise through the process of preparing, competing and accepting their accomplishments.”

Officers not in attendance at the regional meeting but earning recognition for their dedication to club leadership include: 

  • Sara Edwards, junior agriculture education major and 2020 club president from Underwood, Indiana
  • Christina Humphrey, senior animal science major and club secretary from Louisville, Kentucky
  • Cameron Seib, freshman veterinary technology major and club treasurer from Evansville, Indiana
  • Aaron Brewer, junior agriculture education major and Agriculture Leadership Council club representative from Belton, Kentucky
  • Josh Sviben, sophomore horticulture major and Agriculture Leadership Council club representative from Mayfield, Kentucky

The team will next compete at nationals in Orlando this August. The club will host a fundraising plant sale Saturday, April 18 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

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