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The Class of 2023 – The Bounce Back Class

At JCMGA, 2023 has seen the Master Gardeners jumping back into what is beginning to feel almost normal. Several things have come together and created the look and feel of former excellence once again.  The open vacancy for our OSU Coordinator was filled in January with Grace Florjancic. She is a quick study, and we are so happy to have her energy, enthusiasm, and knowledgeable leadership helping to put JCMGA back in line as one of the best Master Gardener Chapters in the state of Oregon. Welcome Grace!

Jane Moyer and a group of JCMGA mentors helped to organize the 2023 Master Gardener Program, with a 14-week class every Wednesday afternoon beginning in January.  Students learned from a 22-chapter text, online modules and in person instruction. They also teamed up with other classmates to create presentations on many Plant Families. They researched their subjects, created online presentations, and presented their findings to approximately 75 people in attendance. Hopefully, each student will pass on their learned knowledge to a broader community in the Rogue Valley.

The Master Gardener Class of 2023 is a promising lot. They started out 55 strong and at this writing the class has only lost two of its original members. There is a large age range represented. Kemper Rose was in utero during the first 2 months of class. Her mother Kendyl Berkowitz was in the early stages of labor during Sunday’s Practicum before Kemper Rose was born later the following day on March 13th, 2023.

Kendyl provided the following interesting facts about Kemper’s name, “Less than 100 people in the world are named Kemper every year. And her name means ‘farmer’. Her middle name is Rose, partly because we have grandmothers with that name but also because I am Bette Midler’s biggest fan EVER.” This was a family affair. Kemper’s Grandfather Jory was also taking the class, along with Kendyl and Kemper Rose. Dad and husband Michael was busy supporting the family and helping to keep Oregonians safe as a supervisor for Oregon State Police Dispatch.  I am sure dad was doing some double duty helping to keep Kemper’s 2-year-old brother happy with mom going to class and keeping up with her job as Executive Director for Rebuilding Together Rogue Valley. This is a nonprofit that uses donations and grant funding to supply low-income disabled homeowners with home modifications to keep them safe at home for as long as possible. Kendyl, on behalf of Rebuilding Together, has also provided a generous grant for JCMGA’s use for improving access to the demonstration gardens.

This class brings many skills and talents to JCMGA. They have signed up for several roles that were vacant after Covid took its toll over the past two challenging years. They have learned new skills and gardening techniques that they can use for the rest of their lives and will hopefully spread this newfound information to our Southern Oregon communities. They have also made new friends.

One of the traits that I witnessed during the Practicum was how our group, mostly strangers, became a well-oiled machine. Once they were taught where things were located, the processes they would use during practicum and the jobs that needed to be done, they worked together. There were no slackers in this group. They volunteered readily, helped one another, buddied up to be more efficient and offered suggestions.  They learned from each other as well as our two knowledgeable and supportive Mentors. It was a joyful way to spend three hours, continuing to learn new skills, volunteering for a wonderful organization and being surrounded by growing plants.