Professional volunteer judges from the America in Bloom (AIB) national awards program will visit Yazoo City, MS on June 18. This is Yazoo City’s first year as an America in Bloom participant, and it is one of the many proud and passionate communities across America working on local revitalization programs. Participants experience better cooperation among municipal, commercial, and residential sectors because everyone works toward a common goal. 

In addition to receiving a detailed written evaluation from the judges citing strengths and opportunities for improvement, participants receive a special mention for what the judges deem to be an extraordinary project or program. Additional awards that can be earned includes:

  • Population category winner
  • Outstanding achievement award – the “best of the best” over all participants in each of the evaluated criteria
  • Special awards
  • Community Champion
  • YouTube Video

Judges will be evaluating the community’s efforts in the areas of flowers, landscaped areas, urban forestry, environmental efforts, celebrating heritage, community vitality, and overall impression.

The judging team members are Douglas Airhart & Ed Hooker.

Douglas Airhart is a Professor of Horticulture in the School of Agriculture at Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville. He teaches production horticulture (landscaping, nursery, greenhouse), turf, and provides FFA training and contests in nursery and floriculture. He serves on the Cookeville Tree Board. He is a Certified Arborist, Municipal Specialist; has managed the Arboretum Certification Program of the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council; and provides assistance to regional Tree Boards. He has published articles on consumer horticulture and tree care technologies and has coordinated grant projects about tree care and maintenance.

Ed Hooker, III currently serves as the first Historical Architect of the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), Veterans Affairs (VA). The NCA oversees 131 National Veterans Cemeteries through the United States and Puerto Rico. Hooker began his career in federal service in 2006 as the Historic Architect and Cultural Resources Manager at Fort Riley, KS. After graduating from Auburn University with a degree in architecture, he began his career in historic preservation with the Alabama Historical Commission, the Alabama State Historic Preservation Office, where he worked with communities to realize the potential of their threatened historic landmarks. He later was the historic architect for the Mobile Historic Development Commission, where he staffed the city’s Architectural Review Board and provided preservation guidance and architectural design assistance to residents of Mobile’s eight historic districts. Hooker credits his passion for historic preservation to growing up in the Black Belt region of Alabama, volunteering as a docent for his community’s annual pilgrimage, and being made aware at an early age the importance of heritage and history.  He considers himself an avid amateur gardener and enjoys container and patio gardening. Ed also served for two years on his town’s AIB Committee.

To date, more than 250 communities from 45 states have participated in the program and more than 22 million people have been touched by it. Awards will be announced October 3-5, 2019 at AIB’s National Symposium & Awards Celebration, held this year in St. Charles, Illinois