Guadalupe (Lupe) Rios
After a nursery in California stopped producing grafted orchard-style chestnut trees for the growing Michigan chestnut industry, Mario and I went to Forrest Keeling Nursery to determine if they would be interested in becoming the “go-to” nursery that would help supply our state’s needed trees. Lupe met this challenge directly and in virtually no time, he and his crew had a successful protocol for turning out thousands of trees per year for our growers. These trees are generally large (not always, but pretty large mostly), robust, and well received by Michigan’s growers. Lupe manages a crew that keeps the scion and rootstock matched and correctly labeled as to rootstock and scion. At the correct time each year, he personally brings the trees north so he can meet the growers and in many instances actually goes to their farms to see the land and orchards. If Lupe is not germinating chestnut, he is preparing rootstock, grafting, cultivating, re-potting, and transporting chestnut trees to Michigan.
At the end of the fall season, he comes back up to Michigan to attend Great Lakes Expo for 4 days in Grand Rapids. There again, he meets and greets the growers while taking orders and answering their questions. When questions are beyond his knowledge (which is not too often), he passes the customer to Chestnut Orchard Solutions or MSU chestnut research team for answers. As if his life is not busy enough, to help provide nursery-generated scion wood, he has established a chestnut orchard in Elsberry, Missouri with the above mentioned cultivars.
I know he works on many other trees and crops at the nursery. He maintains the nursery’s pawpaw and elderberry programs along with other programs such as edible landscapes and oak tree production. Preparing the nursery for farm days, devoted to one or more crops, is also a part of his schedule each summer.
For Lupe, an important part of his life is service to his country as he is a member of the Missouri National Guard which was deployed to Afghanistan. This training takes him away from the nursery several times each year. To properly prepare for this, each time he must organize his work and delegate his work effectively to meet established deadlines.
Still, Lupe’s best trait is his personality. Always smiling, optimistic and resourceful, he is a pleasure to know and to work with. Lupe Rios is a special person. We are so happy you were nominated and won the Western Association Nurserymen’s Employee of the year award!