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SRJC Horticulture Faculty PJ LoCoco retirement inspires Scholarship Fund


SRJC Horticulture Faculty Emeritus PJ LoCoco retirement inspires Scholarship Fund

PHOTO: Dr. Frank Chong, SRJC President, Pj LoCoco, SRJC Horticulture Faculty Emeritus, Mr. Jeff Kunde, President, SRJC Board of Trustees

Nearly 300 people attended the Pj LoCoco Retirement Celebration at the SRJC Shone Farm on December 19, 2015. The event was hosted by the SRJC Ag/NR Department in cooperation with the SRJC Foundation. Twenty volunteers served on the event planning committee chaired by Kasey Wade, Program Coordinator for the SRJC Natural Resource Management Program. The evening began with a reception sponsored by Wyatt Irrigation Supply. An old fashioned grilled tri-tip dinner followed under the watchful eye of Richard Thomas, retired SRJC Viticulture Instructor.

The Master of Ceremonies, Dr. David Wolf led the evening program with a number of speakers highlighting Pj’s contributions over the past 34 years to her SRJC students, her profession and the Horticulture Industry. One of Pj’s mentors from her days as a student at Cal Poly, Dr Joe Sabol, traveled from San Luis Obispo to offer the keynote address. Former students Mary Frost and Pierre Marizco spoke about how Pj positively impacted their careers.

Phil Wyatt, former owner of Wyatt Irrigation Supply and long-time member of the SRJC Environmental Horticulture Advisory Committee shared the strong connection Pj developed between her program and the Horticulture Industry. Dr. Frank Chong, SRJC President and Jeff Kunde, President of the SRJC Board of Trustees highlighted Pj’s contributions to the college and presented her with a special proclamation from the City of Santa Rosa.

Kasey Wade presented Pj with several retirement gifts and led a group of guests in the reading of a special poem she had written for the occasion. Pj wrapped up the series of presentations by expressing her appreciation to the presenters, the planning committee, her family and all the guests for making the evening so enjoyable.

The final event of the evening was a “Raise Your Paddle” challenge to raise funds for the newly established Pj LoCoco Honorary Horticulture Scholarship Endowment Fund. The SRJC Foundation Ag Trust Committee challenged the event planning committee to raise $25,000 from the event which would trigger a 1:1 match by the Ag Trust up to $25,000. No one was surprised at the conclusion of the evening program when the MC announced the full cash match had been achieved and the new scholarship endowment would start with a balance of more than $50,000.


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Pj LoCoco has devoted her professional life to students, the horticulture industry and the betterment of Santa Rosa Junior College. “Pj”, as she prefers to be called, established and nurtured the SRJC Environmental Horticulture Program teaching thousands of students the essential knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the ever changing field of horticulture.

The classroom and lab is where Pj masterfully plied her trade. Her creativity, organizational skills and practical application of difficult principles are legendary and greatly appreciated by her students. Former student Mary Frost states “Pj’s loving yet firm teaching style sucked me in and changed the trajectory of my life.” Pj received many honors in recognition of her outstanding teaching ability. She earned the Teacher of Excellence Award by the California Agricultural Teachers Association (CATA), the Excellence in Teaching Award by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development and the Outstanding Horticulture Teacher Award by the California Association of Nurserymen (CAN) just to name a few.

Pj applied her leadership skills within the college, her industry and her professional organization. She served on the SRJC Faculty Senate for many years, served as the President of the Redwood Empire Chapter of CAN and also served as President of CATA.

As Pj enters retirement, she will long be remembered by her students for her commitment to their success. She will be remembered by her faculty colleagues at SRJC and around the state of California for her vision and dedicated leadership. She will also be remembered buy industry professionals for the caliber of students she prepared for careers in ornamental horticulture.

A summary of Pj’s career would not be complete without mentioning the importance of her supportive and involved family. Her husband Tom and two sons Matt and Bryan were instrumental to Pj’s success, but she also contributed greatly to theirs. Tom recently retired from a key management position with the Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks Department and the boys are in college. Matt is attending the University of Hawaii and Bryan attends UC Davis. Avid Boys Scout leaders, Pj and Tom both gave generously of their time to the organization and both sons became Eagle Scouts.