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When I volunteered to run for the office of JCMGA vice-president/president-elect in August 2018, it was because I’d been a little bored. I figured a couple of extra meetings a month would give me something new and interesting to do. Wise decision. I haven’t been the least bit bored since. Sometimes a little busier than I might like, but never bored.

As I contemplated my presidential year, I envisioned myself walking around the Extension grounds every Wednesday morning, finding out what was going on and reporting to you via the Garden Beet. As we all know, 2020 turned out to be very different. Many of us recall a specific date when we first realized the impact COVID-19 would have on our lives. For me that date is March 13, when the doors to the Extension auditorium were closed and we held the last in-person meeting of JCMGA Board members “off campus.”

We needed to decide whether to go ahead with the Spring Garden Fair or cancel. Looking back, it is hard to believe we thought it even possible that such an event might still be held. But I am proud that JCMGA was among the first to recognize our responsibility to do what we could to limit the spread of the virus by not hosting an activity that would bring crowds together.

Although more activities had to be cancelled later, we still accomplished a lot. The Demonstration Gardens are in glorious shape thanks to the efforts of the volunteers who showed up faithfully every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning when the campus reopened in late June. Lynn Kunstman answered questions from listeners near and far on her regular Wednesday morning gig on Jefferson Public Radio. Practicum mentors led several on-line sessions for 2020 students who wanted to continue lessons after the classroom closed. We all learned to use Zoom and continued monthly Board meetings and even retreats without a hitch.

The Garden Beet likewise continued monthly publication and is a livelier read than ever. And have you checked out the Beet on our website? Each month’s articles are now highlighted complete with photos. I always print out my copy to read over coffee, but someone who reads it online commented recently about how much easier it is to upload to her device.

We did our first ever virtual Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens event. For this initial “toe in the water” experiment, viewers could tour my vegetable garden via photographs with live narration and Lynn’s native plant and vegetable garden in the same format. These have been recorded and we’ll let you know soon how you can view them if you missed the first showing.

To support our community, we donated native plants raised by the Practicum to help restore landscapes destroyed by fire, garden tools to Habitat for Humanity to help with cleanup, and houseplants for Asante Women’s Imaging to give to those who have mammograms that show abnormalities.

We celebrated our award winners, Barbara Davidson, Dee Copley, Steve Hassen, Doug Kirby, Bill Elliot, and John Kobal, with an afternoon Zoom gathering filled with speeches, lots of thanks, and good cheer.

It looks as though JCMGA will finish this year in the black, despite the cancellation of our major fundraiser. We’ve kept expenses to a bare minimum. Meanwhile our Garden Guides sold better than ever; we received donations from community garden group plant sales; and bottle returns and credits from the Grange Co-op and elsewhere added a bit to the bottom line.

JCMGA remains a vital organization. Just reading the comments from those who ran for office convinces me that: “The opportunity to be working with people who give so much of themselves for our community is a great honor.” “Master Gardeners is an amazing place to learn about gardening and a great resource for community.” “I am grateful for all JCMGA does to practice and teach the art and science of gardening.”

We will have a fabulous Board of Directors in 2021. So many wished to serve that every position (except president-elect, still searching!) will be filled and no one will need to wear more than one hat. I am proud and happy to pass the baton on to Lynn Kunstman, who will do an amazing job as your 2021 president.