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Oregon Master Gardener

OMGA Joy of Gardening Conference

By Beet 2023 08 August

I was lucky to attend this year’s Oregon State University Extension Service Joy of Gardening Conference, two days of research-based classes on edibles, ornamentals and pollinators. It was held in Corvallis, OR on July 7 and 8. The conference was well organized and had excellent presenters. I learned a great deal about gardening that can be applied to my personal garden as well as Jackson County Master Gardener Association projects, training and gardens.

In addition to attending, I volunteered to help new attendees staying in the dorms to get their room keys, building passes, and directions to registration, etc. I also wrote a process to provide guidance to participants and the planning committee, and submitted it to the planning committee for use in 2024. Volunteering gave me insights and great appreciation for how hard the Joy of Gardening planning committee works and the value they bring to the Master Gardeners of Oregon. Thank you, Oregon Master Gardener Association.

The conference was excellent and every presentation provided new information to help Master Gardeners deal with current issues. I learned lessons that will be passed back to the Joy of Gardening planning group, and can also be applied to projects here at JCMGA. There were two outstanding Keynote speakers:

Tom Kaye on Coping with Climate was informative, had a good sense of humor and summarized recent research on how plants respond to changing climate. We hope he accepts our invitation to present at the 2024 Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens (WD/SG).

Dr. Melathopoulos is affectionately called “the Bee Guy”. He spoke at last year’s WD/SG and is scheduled again this fall. We hope he will update us on the fabulous Citizen Science efforts of Josephine County Master Gardeners, especially their findings about rare bees. Josephine County Master Gardeners will continue collecting data on rare bees in spite of their county commissioners’ defunding decisions. OSU is helping. This is great news.

The Joy of Gardening Conference is also a place to connect with groups to make a difference. I took a class on “Citizen Science”, an approach in which volunteers help conduct scientific research. Master Gardeners may be able to earn volunteer hours and provide a valuable service as they gather data, and it doesn’t take much effort! Please contact Grace Florjancic with any questions.

Grace and I participated in a round table discussion where we learned that most chapters are looking for ways to increase participation, retention and expand volunteers and membership. Grace and I discussed our efforts with creating Friends of the Gardens. The round table was an opportunity for different chapters to compare their issues and problem-solve. I think it should be included every year.

I was so thrilled to see how well JCMGA is doing as a chapter. We had the greatest number of people mentioned for awards. Lynn Kunstman was awarded the Master Gardener of the Year at the state level. She so deserves this recognition.  Thank you, Lynn, and congratulations. You go, girl!

OMGA raises scholarship money, via a raffle, to help people attend the Joy of Gardening Conference. This year, their Send a Friend project provided five people across Oregon the opportunity to attend. Next year, JCMGA could look into a similar fundraising effort. Perhaps it could be a reward for one of our Friends of the Garden or an outstanding student in the 2024 class.

In closing, I would like to mention another lovely activity at this year’s Joy of Gardening. Attendees visited the Polk County Inspirational Garden. We were met upon entering the garden by a Master Gardener and given refreshments, learned some history and took an informative stroll through this reclaimed area. I will let you learn about this beautiful space, its creation and development on your own virtual visit.

The Inspirational Garden has an acronym with an interesting history. FIG stands for Friends In the Garden. This beautiful place is managed and maintained by the Master Gardeners of Polk County and Friends, who are all volunteers. Brooke, the interim State MG, helped get the friends part of this in place as it was known that Master Gardeners alone could not do this on their own. Thank you to Brooke for helping to make that happen. This is a good example for us all. Many chapters have a claim to fame. It would be nice if these outstanding works were shared with OMGA and OMGA could advertise to all what Master Gardeners are doing throughout the state.

Attending the OMGA Joy of Gardening Conference was inspirational and provided me with many learnings to pass on to others. I encourage everyone to attend when they can.

OMGA Awards Nominations Wanted

By Beet 2023 04 April

It’s time to nominate someone for State Behind the Scenes Master Gardener of the Year, and our local county JCMGA Master Gardener of the Year and Behind the Scenes Master Gardener of the Year. This year you can also nominate a volunteer who has worked to advance Growing and Belonging.

~~~~ All nominations are due by April 15th. ~~~~


The annual Master-Gardener-of-the-Year Award recognizes outstanding dedication and service in support of sustainable gardening to benefit all of Jackson County and/or the entire Oregon Master Gardener program. Describe your nominees’ contributions in education and outreach, such as work in the Plant Clinic, teaching classes, serving as a mentor, planning and organizing a major project, or other activities. Include any leadership roles they have held. If their work has had an impact beyond the borders of Jackson County, e.g., if other county Master Gardener programs have adopted projects that started in Jackson County, be sure to mention that!


The annual Behind-the-Scenes Award can also be for service just in Jackson County or statewide. It recognizes individuals who work quietly and unselfishly in ways that may not be noticed by everyone, e.g. by preparing and serving refreshments, keeping accurate records, maintaining and repairing the physical plant, or seeing projects through to completion.


In addition to our Master Gardener of the Year, and Behind the Scenes awards, 2023 marks the first year recognizing and celebrating the volunteers who have significantly contributed in advancing diversity, inclusion, access, and/or equity among Master Gardener volunteers and the communities we work with.


In 200 words or less, describe your nominees’ activities as fully as you can ​with specific examples​, and e-mail your nominations to ​Barbara Low at