As a young mother, Gerry Crouch loved working on landscape designs for friends. She and a garden club friend, Judy Drake, would bounce design ideas off one another. Gradually by word of mouth their skills became known to an ever-widening circle of friends. The two decided to form a partnership which has survived more than 30 years and resulted in a thriving business with a yearlong waiting list of clients. Crouch attributes much of the success of Sunscapes Landscape Design to a UNF accounting degree. She returned to finish her college education after a divorce. “It’s difficult when you go back to school and have three teenage children to raise.” She said going back to school actually made the children more responsible and mature, because the entire family shouldered the household responsibilities. She obtained her accounting degree in 1987 and discovered, even before graduation, that her education had practical day-to-day applications in her business. “They (the accounting faculty) not only taught me how to keep the financial statements, but also how to control cash flow, ensure profitability for each job, and analyze what’s going right and what’s going wrong.” Crouch said professors would occasionally “cut me some slack” because of her family responsibilities but didn’t compromise on the quality of her education. She knows quality, having completed two years at an Ivey League school before leaving to marry and raise a family. The key to Crouch’s success has been treating clients as family. “I think one of the reasons we’ve grown so much is that we make a huge commitment to each and every job.” Specializing in residential landscaping, Crouch and her partner discovered early on they needed to control the quality of construction. “Most contractors simply didn’t care about the intricacies of our designs, and wanted to plant our selections any old way.” The company eventually hired a contractor who, under their supervision, installed the landscaping exactly as designed. “When we became involved in controlling the contracting, our business increased 400 percent in one year.” Crouch has also been involved in a number of professional organizations. In 2004, the Association of Professional Landscape Designers presented her with a service award. The association said Crouch “spent countless hours working on financials and assisted in the development of realistic budgets that would help the organization grow.” Her vision for the future was apparent to the association. “Gerry truly moved the organization into looking at the big picture and we would not be where we are without her guidance and direction.” Crouch feels this award was a tribute to her UNF education. It was one more accomplishment in a long list for a Fab Grad who just wanted to make use of her “green thumb” talents.