Horticulturist’s resignation leaves programming in flux

Less than eight months after taking the post, the Tri River Area horticulture agent for the Colorado State University Extension in Grand Junction has resigned.

Nick Meyer took over the post last May after the retirement of longtime horticulture agent Curtis Swift in 2012. Meyer resigned Dec. 30, effective immediately.

The addition of job duties not mentioned when he was hired, a “hostile work environment” and allegations of misconduct were listed among Meyer’s reasons for quitting in his resignation letter.

In emails to The Daily Sentinel, Meyer elaborated that he was concerned about charges he said he told supervisors about in extension accounts, including a $625 error in the horticultural account and at least one master gardener receiving $5,500 in scholarship funds, when each master gardener is not supposed to receive more than $500 in scholarship funding per year, he said.

“I have been accused of insubordination on multiple occasions, a cause for termination, for bringing these issues forward,” Meyer wrote.

C.J. Mucklow, Western Region director for Colorado State University Extension, said he cannot comment on Meyer’s resignation but said an internal audit of scholarship accounts has been launched and greater accountability for scholarship use will be forthcoming.

Meyer’s resignation and the retirement last year of horticulture specialist and Master Gardener Coordinator Susan Rose leaves some programming in flux, Mucklow said. He recently rehired Rose for 10 to 12 hours a week but said a lack of horticulture expertise in the office will mean no winter training. Master gardener apprenticeships typically begin in January, but not this year.

“We will have (training) next year for sure,” Mucklow said.

An advisory group of master gardeners will discuss the future of programming and define what they want Meyer’s replacement to do. Meyer wrote that his job was supposed to focus 75 percent on commercial horticulture and the rest on consumer horticulture and administration, but he said a vacancy in the office’s horticulture specialist job left him with extra duties. Mucklow said he isn’t sure how the horticulture agent position will be defined, but it may involve more than strictly horticulture duties.

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