Bill Waycott was recognized with the 2016 Hoover Award for his contributions to appreciation and preservation of the San Luis Obispo native flora. The honor, named for Dr. Robert Hoover, was presented to Bill Waycott at the January banquet. Prior recipients meet yearly to select an honoree judged for their accomplishments in education, conservation and chapter support.

Teachers are supposed to inspire their students. I am sure they do. But sometimes students also inspire their teachers. As a Teaching Assistant at UC Santa Barbara in 1970, one of my students was Bill Waycott. Bill loved plants, loved the field trips, loved the plant ID. He became very enthusiastic about California flora and developed an abiding interest of it. In 1971 we went our separate ways, and seldom saw or heard from each other. But I always remembered his interest and enthusiasm.

In 1996 I became the Natural Resources Manager for the City of San Luis Obispo. Imagine my surprise and delight when my wife (who had also been one of my students) told me that she had met Bill at her work, that he lived in town and was married (to Diana, yet another of my students) with two daughters. We hooked up again.

Bill’s work had him traveling a lot, so he only belatedly got back into native plants; that old interest and enthusiasm was still there. Eventually, he became more and more active in the SLO Chapter of CNPS. In 2011, when the Field Trip board position became vacant, Bill saw an opportunity to participate more fully. He soon became the Field Trip Chair and continues in that capacity today. In addition to organizing our many field trips, he is often the trip leader. It is a position that lead to his interest in furthering CNPS outreach and building connections with other like minded groups. This includes co-sponsored field trips as well as opportunities to host educational tables at activities, such as with the Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers.

Bill has brought a new enthusiasm to the chapter. Along with long-time CNPS member John Chesnut, he brought the state Rare Plant Treasure Hunt, a citizen-science program, to San Luis Obispo county. He has participated in many rare plant hunts statewide, and was recognized for attending the most outings in 2014. In 2015, Bill was elected President of our local chapter. In that capacity, Bill continues to expand outreach opportunities for the chapter. Coordinating with the City of San Luis Obispo, CNPS has partnered to restore the native flora along San Luis Creek in Mission Plaza. During these drought years, he has arranged participation in KCBX radio programs to inform the public about drought tolerant native plants for the yard.

Like many of our members, he has a great interest in collecting seed and growing native plants. He has grown plants and provided them for the annual plant sale, and for use at our many booth opportunities during the years. He was unanimously reelected chapter President in 2016. Bill has also extended his interest and commitment to CNPS to the state organization. He was elected a Chapter Council representative to the State Board, and recently assumed the position of Vice President.

Yes, students can and do inspire their teachers. Bill has inspired all of us over the years. It is with great honor and pride that we recognize his services and accomplishments for us as our most recent winner of the Robert F. Hoover Award.

– Neil Havlik