Focus on greener side of black earns Ford national honor

When most people see highways, they see asphalt, painted lines, directional signs and guardrails.

Cathy Ford sees plants, roadside vegetation — the greener side of black.

ITD’s roadside program administrator of more than 12 years, manages seed purchases and distributes seed for construction and maintenance projects. She develops re-vegetation plans for construction projects, selects species and seeding rates, oversees landscape plantings, weed control, erosion control and works to prevent the spread of noxious weeds and invasive species.

Consider her a vital part of ITD’s growth plan.

When she’s not planning for and monitoring the vegetation program, she also oversees maintenance of ITD’s rest areas, including contracts, inspections and funding, and is part of the OASIS partnerships for travelers.

Those varied responsibilities and Cathy's commitment to doing them well, earned praise from a national organization recently. She was one of just six individuals selected from city, county and state levels to receive the 2013 Turney Hernandez award from the National Roadside Vegetation Management Association.

“Each year, nominations are received prior to the annual conference for individuals or programs that excel in the vegetation management field,” according to the award announcement.

David Cornett of the Kentucky Department of Transportation nominated Ford for the honor. Her nomination was reviewed by the organization’s board of directors, and was selected as one of the finalists. The six award-winners were announced at the 30th annual conference last month in Louisville.

The award is named after Turney Hernandez who founded NRVMA professionals involved in roadside vegetation management.

His goal for the organization was to “bring together personnel interested and involved in integrated roadside vegetation management through employment, research, education, regulation, contracting, manufacturing or merchandise.”

Ford is among the half-dozen people chosen nationally for their commitment to improving the visual experience for travelers. She is joined by:

  • Farrell Baggett, Alabama Department of Transportation, Evergreen district
  • Danise Nettles, Montgomery County, Alabama Engineering Department
  • Juan Hernandez, public works, Bexar County, Texas
  • Carl Wells, Kentucky Transportation Center, and
  • Pat McGann, Utah Department of Transportation

Ford has held the same position since her initial appointment in July 2001.

ITD implements a comprehensive and integrated vegetation management program that assures water quality, improves erosion and sediment control, reduces roadside maintenance, enhances natural beauty, manages noxious weeds and protects natural habitats.

Overview of ITD’s Statewide Roadside Program
ITD’s Integrated Vegetation Management for Roadsides

Published 10-18-13