Hall Of Fame Inductees
The individuals nominated should have made a significant impact or positive influence that assures the future of our industry in the lives of generations to come.
Once nominated, an individual’s biography and photo are updated on the site, and he or she is placed in the polls for voting. At the end of the year the committee takes into consideration the votes and decides which candidates are inducted.
- Person with integrity and passion
- Minimum 20 years in industry
- Someone who has developed or invented new technology
- Has made contributions that resulted in change
- Contributed to mankind’s needs in his field
- Provided education and encouragement with self-sacrifice
- Changed the industry
Dr. John Kabashima
UC Cooperative Extension
John Kabashima is a native southern Californian, born in Los Angeles a few years after his family returned from Rohwer Internment Camp in Arkansas (where they had been sent during World War II). John started working in the family nursery business as soon as he was tall enough to over and under water 1 gallon nursery plants. After killing thousands of plants, he was finally allowed to manage the family business from 1970 to 1976. During this time he met one of his early mentors, Kai Kawanami, who urged him to become a California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Pest Control Advisor in 1971. This was his introduction to the discipline of Pest Management. After finishing basic and advanced training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas in 1969, he returned to serve with the 222nd Mobile Communications Squadron in Costa Mesa, California and work at the family business. There, he met a newly returned Vietnam veteran who was delivering bedding plants to John’s family nursery. That young vet was Gary Hayakawa, who would become a lifelong friend, colleague, and fellow inductee into the Green Industry Hall of Fame.
In 1976, his family sold the business because John wanted to attend California Polytechnic University, Pomona and pursue Janet Nakai, an alluring young nursery woman who would later become his wife. He earned a B.S. in Agricultural Biology from Cal Poly in 1979, was quickly hired by the LA County Agricultural Commissioners Office, and, after one day on the job, was one of the first “Prop 13” layoffs in LA County. This was a blessing in disguise: well-known horticulture entomologist, Pat Morishita (another mentor), then recruited him to work as his lab technician and enroll in the Pest Management Masters program at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). During this time, John ran into Gary again, who was now the owner of Three Star Nursery, one of the program’s prime research sites due to its abundance of pests. In 1980, John earned his Masters of Science in Pest Management from UCR.
Pat encouraged John to try his hand in private enterprise at Target Specialty Products. At Target, John managed the Ornamental Horticulture Division and earned his MBA at Pepperdine University in 1986. In 1987, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) recruited John to become the Environmental Horticulture Advisor in Orange and LA County, the position he still toils at to this day. In 1995, John took a sabbatical leave to pursue a Ph.D. in Entomology at UCR. As a full time Environmental Horticulture Advisor, he chose the Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA), a newly arrived exotic and invasive pest, as his dissertation topic. He collected 55 RIFA colonies from throughout California and housed them at the RIFA lab located at the South Coast Research and Extension Center (South Coast REC) in Irvine, California, where he conducted much of his research. After much nagging from friends, family, and colleagues, he finished his dissertation in 2005 and was awarded a Ph.D. in Entomology from UCR.
UCCE Environmental Horticulture Advisors work with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) researchers, conduct their own applied research, and deliver science-based solutions to the nursery and landscape industry and home owners. John’s varied research and extension programs include the management of insects, diseases, and weeds in horticulture production systems, biological control of exotic pests, water use, water use related problems, and US EPA Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of landscapes, golf courses, nurseries, municipalities, and Watersheds. He also manages the over 300 strong UCCE Master Gardener volunteer program in Orange County, which uses formally trained UC ANR volunteers to extend university-based information on gardening and horticulture to the public.
In addition to his position as Environmental Horticulture Advisor, John has served as Interim Center Director of the UC ANR South Coast REC and County Director of UCCE in Orange County. In 1991, John once again worked with Gary Hayakawa to keep UCCE in Orange County after the OC Board of Supervisors voted to discontinue funding and housing of its office. Gary became a master of the political process after his family lost their nursery land to the imminent domain process, which built a park where their nursery had once been. Gary promised himself that he would learn the political process and develop political relationships to ensure that his new nursery, and anyone else he cared about in Orange County, would not easily fall prey to the same process. Gary used that political knowledge, skill, and relationships to lead the successful restoration of funding to UCCE, and in his capacity as a Board Member of the OC Fair, found housing for UCCE on the OC Fairgrounds.
John belongs to many organizations and societies such as the Entomological Society of America, California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Nursery Growers Association, Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, United Agribusiness League, and San Diego Flower and Plant Association. He is the official lecturer for the Southern California Gardeners Federation and has served on numerous committees, including the SCREC Research Advisory Committee, CDFA Glassy Winged Sharpshooter (GWSS) Science Advisory Panel, GWSS Nursery Task Force, CDFA Diaprepes Advisory Committee, Orange County/CDFA RIFA Oversight Committee, Nursery Growers Leadership Board, NRCS/USDA Local Work Group, CDFA Nursery Advisory Board, UC IPM Exotic/Invasive Pests and Diseases, Urban System and Technical Review Panel, CANGC Research Committee, Advisor to the OC Farm Bureau Board of Directors, Great Park Agriculture Advisory Committee, Orange Coast College Horticulture Advisory Committee, UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance Executive Committee, and United Agribusiness League Scholarship Committee.
John’s efforts to conduct an Extension program of education and research in Environmental Horticulture has been recognized by the nursery, agricultural, and landscape industries, a recognition evidenced by his many awards. He received the 1987 Education and Research Award from the OC Chapter of CANGC, 1993 CANERS Research Award from CANGC, 1996 Education and Research Award from the Centinela Chapter of CANGC, 1998 Outstanding Educator Award for the L.A. Southwest Gardeners Association, 1999 Education and Research Award from the OC Chapter of CANGC, 2002 Nursery Extension Agent Award from the American Nursery and Landscape Association, 2003 Resolution of Appreciation from the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, 2006 UC ANR Outstanding Teamwork Award, 2008 Western Extension Directors Award of Excellence, 2008 Resolution of Appreciation for Stakeholder Participation in Basin Planning and Regulatory Activities, 2010 Entomological Society of America-Pacific Branch IPM Team Award, 2010 Entomological Society of America National IPM Team Award, and the 2011 California Agriculture Pest Control Advisors Association Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture Award.
John has truly been able to unite his avocation with his vocation. An avid photographer, his photographs can be found in numerous textbooks, websites, news articles, and non-peer reviewed and peer reviewed papers locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. His true passion is seeking new culinary experiences with his wife Janet and daughter Misa, at home and in their travels together. Old age has finally affected his knees, turning him from an avid martial artist into a couch potato martial artist who either watches or reads about martial arts, often with his eyes closed. He loves learning new things, sharing that information with others, and using his knowledge and skills to solve problems facing the urban, agricultural, and natural resources of California, such as the ever increasing arrivals of exotic and invasive pests. Success in one’s field is often a combination of natural ability, informal and formal training and education, being mentored, networking with collaborators, and colleagues, all sprinkled with a little bit of luck and support from one’s family and friends. Because of the many mentors who have provided much needed advice and guidance, John believes in mentoring others and can often be observed giving young and old advice and guidance, whether they want it or not.