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The President’s Corner — What is a Master Gardener?

I am sure after reading the title of this article, that a word or idea comes directly to mind about what a Master Gardener is to you. To many, it refers to a knowledge of gardening, the how and why of being a successful gardener, forever learning. To others it invokes pouring over seed catalogs, looking for just the right seeds to raise that special heritage tomato or long-forgotten bean. Then there are those who look to improve their environment and the planet by planting natives in their home landscape to benefit the local wildlife and insects, and to support their food chain.

Or maybe it is just about joining a group of like-minded people, working side-by-side in the Demonstration Gardens, greenhouses or on special projects. We are a community. We come from different walks of life, different careers and sometimes different states or countries! Gardening is what brings us together, and whether we are novices or licensed pros, we enjoy each other’s company in doing what we love.

Gardening is something we can do our whole life. Whether a sunny windowsill full of house plants, a big yard, or a small patio, it is someplace to get our hands dirty and grow things. Gardens, like life, will wax and wane according to our responsibilities and constraints put upon us. When we are young and energetic, there are so many demands of running a home and career. As we age, we have the time, but physicality sometimes puts limits on us. We find ourselves in new roles as our needs and abilities change.

For many, taking the Master Gardener Program comes later in life; lucky are the ones who can be a part of it in their youth! For those of us that have some free time on our hands, however, there are other ways to be involved that don’t require heavy lifting or a strict schedule – you can be a Master Gardener Volunteer! Volunteering is the heart of our organization; it is what keeps the program going and serves the public by teaching the art and science of gardening for future generations.

In our Jackson County Master Gardener Association there are lots of ways to volunteer! Of course, not everyone wants to be the President or on the Board of Directors, but that is a great way to know what the organization is doing and have a say in its future.

If you don’t want anything quite that formal, join a Working Group that only meets once a month! There is a variety to choose from; find one that fits your interests or skills:

  • Gardens WG (Native Nursery, Practicum, Demonstration Gardens, grounds maintenance, garden enhancement)
  • Marketing and Technology WG (Garden Beet, Facebook, Mailchimps, YouTube, the JCMGA website, advertising, photography and videography)
  • Member Services (Directory, Member registration, condolences)
  • Community Outreach WG (Garden/School Grants, Scholarships, Speakers Bureau, Community Gardens, Diversity, Equality and Inclusion)
  • Fundraising WG (special events, incoming grants)
  • Practicum (mentors, Garden Buddies)

Last but not least, the Plant Clinic is where your help would be much appreciated. In addition to all that fun we aways need extra bodies for the once-a-year events such as Spring Garden Fair (yes, it’s back!), Fall Festival (new, coming this fall!) and Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens (held virtually, virtual host volunteers needed). Or, how about just coming out to help for a few hours at the Picnic, Graduation, or on Wednesdays, March through October in the Demonstration Gardens?

YOU, the JCMGA members, are the Master Gardener Body and your volunteerism is its life blood! Please come and donate some of your free time, be around people who share the same interests and have fun. It’s good for you and benefits the community. No matter your level of involvement – whether online in zoom meetings making decisions, on committees, or out on the grounds getting dirty – we need and appreciate all of you!