Celebrating With Extension Master Gardener Volunteers

— Written By and last updated by

Lenoir County Cooperative Extension celebrated the volunteer service of local Extension Master Gardener Volunteers on December 12. The group joined together for a good meal at a local restaurant since the Extension Office was flooded following Hurricane Matthew.

The Master Gardener Volunteer program is designed to train volunteers to help gardeners make environmentally sound decisions in their gardens, lawns and landscapes. Training is required to become a Master Gardener Volunteer and classes include a broad spectrum of horticulture topics that are based on research information.

The Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program began in Lenoir County in 1991 with 9 volunteers. Over the years more than 120 men and women have been trained in the program and thousands of volunteer hours have been given to assist others. Their efforts multiply the capabilities of the county NCSU Extension Service to provide solutions and assist people.

Invited to join the celebration were recipients of a new gardening mini grant program. The grants are an outreach by the Lenoir County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association to foster learning about the natural world by children. Two grants are being awarded in this new program. Gail Goff is a preschool teacher at Northeast Elementary and she plans to use the grant to grow a Butterfly Reading Garden at the school. Children will be able to observe and ask questions about this real-world experience. The second grant goes to Rachel Hill, a fifth-grade teacher at Northwest Elementary School, who will use the grant to set up a worm composting system. Students will have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with worms and composting.

At the Celebration, congratulations were extended to 5 individuals who had recently completed the 2016 Master Gardener Training Class. Receiving Certificates for completion were Eloisie Hartmann, Janice Harnish, Gail Pethia, Cheryl Crouse and Peggy Afarian. This group has already begun to share the knowledge gained in many ways. They have helped educate children through a series of children’s gardening activities. They worked to raise funds with a plant sale to support the children’s garden and have participated in community events.

Recognized with certificates were Extension Master Gardener Volunteers who have been working in the program for many years. Volunteer time given was noted for: Mary Chapman, Pat Sargeant, Pat Bizzell, Rachel Edwards, Bill Fox, Jo Carroll, Russell Power, Dudley Dean, Lottie Huntsman, Cathy Reese, Don Baker, Georgia Ormond, Barbara Baker, Pat Grady, Margaret Butler, Jo Huettl, and Ann Telford. Cheryl Crouse, Gail Pethia and Janice Harnish have completed the initial 40 hours of volunteer service and were awarded the title of Master Gardener.

Given special recognition was Lottie Huntsman for the highest number of education hours. Dudley Dean, a Master Gardener since 2008, received special recognition for volunteering the most hours in the year.

Putting a dollar value for volunteer time given is difficult but the value of this horticulture education program for 2016 is estimated at over $30,000 to the county. Contact the Lenoir County Cooperative Extension Office to find out more about the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program.