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Celebrating Our 45th

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This year, 2024, marks the 45th birthday of the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program, and we’re taking time to celebrate. We take birthdays pretty seriously around here!

We began our festivities with a visit to Georgia’s capitol on February 20, 2024. Along with members of the Georgia Green Industry Association and UGA Horticulture Club undergrad students, MGEVs from Coweta County helped distribute 500 potted ferns and informational packets with basil seeds to legislators’ offices. Representative Lynn Smith gave a shout out to Georgia MGEVs, reading a resolution that recognized MGEVs for their outstanding efforts that they contribute to Extension’s programming. We shared more in this post. Many thanks to the Georgia Master Gardener Association for sponsoring these basil seed kits!

Celebrations will continue in April as we join in the nationwide celebration of volunteerism during Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 21-27, 2024). A special article will run on UGA CAES Newswire, sharing the accomplishments of all volunteers who support programming in Extension. MGEVs will be recognized all week in our social media, highlighting MGEV projects all over the state. Each day, we will highlight a specific group of projects and people who are instrumental in their success. Be sure to follow us so that you see what we post!

In June, we have a very special celebration that spotlights MGEV demonstration gardens! During the entire month of June, we are hosting Open Garden Days. Twelve counties have volunteered to open their demonstration gardens to the public and offer special events, like guided tours, speakers, and workshops. While many MGEV demonstration gardens are already listed on our “Visit A Garden” webpage, we’ll have a digital garden booklet that highlights and describes which gardens are hosting special events during this time. This booklet can be downloaded and printed. Visitors are encouraged to check out as many of the gardens as possible!

We’ll conclude our celebrations in October with the GMGA annual conference in Griffin on October 4-5, 2024. Hosted by the Henry County MGEVs, this event is sure to please! Friday preconference tours will highlight UGA Griffin research, while Saturday’s sessions will speak to the theme, “Think Globally, Grow Locally.”

Georgia MGEVs are unique individuals who use their enthusiasm about plants and gardening to support UGA Extension programming in consumer horticulture. We think that taking a few minutes to celebrate their great work and accomplishments is important! We’re looking forward to a fantastic season of fun! Won’t you join us?

Extension Agents and program assistants know Georgia Master Gardeners best. Here's what they had to share about a few amazing volunteers.

Volunteers grow Georgia communities

"In their first year, this crop of interns has shown up and shown out. They are coming down the home stretch of completing their class project assignment, a Sensory Garden and Outdoor classroom to serve the youth of our county. They have even written and received a grant to help fund their project! This class of 2021 MGEV Trainees is a great example of exceptional volunteerism in our county." -UGA Extension, Paulding County, Christen Thomas

"Marilyn Skinner has been a Master Gardener Extension Volunteer since 2013. Marilyn is a prime example of what a true MGEV is. She manages our Learning for Life Garden and has done so for many years. We never have to worry about the garden because she takes care of it as if it were her own. Marilyn has had some health issues and still does but she does not let that keep her from volunteering each year, and not just 25 hours but over a hundred hours every year. She never complains and is always enthusiastic about everything she does. It is a pleasure to work with her." -UGA Extension, Forsyth County, Beverly Adams


2021 annual report summary graphic

"Randy Drinkard, Troup County Master Gardener Extension Volunteer, has gone above and beyond in his volunteer capacity over. In addition to regularly assisting with homeowner phone calls and horticulture-related site visits, Mr. Drinkard provided valuable insight on a variety of agriculture and botanical issues that came through the office. This was a vital service for the residents of Troup County, as we were without an Ag. Agent for 9+ months, and Mr. Drinkard graciously volunteered his time by regularly coming by the office in-person, as well as returning client phone calls daily. Upon the arrival of the new Ag. Agent in March 2021, Mr. Drinkard accompanied the new agent on a site visit to assist a burgeoning fruit orchard producer in the area. He additionally attended the ground-breaking ceremony for our new building and kindly took photos of the event, which he provided to the office. Mr. Drinkard's personable nature, wealth of knowledge, willingness to assist, and dedication to continuing Extension's mission are just a few of the characteristics he possesses that makes him an outstanding MGEV." -UGA Extension, Troup County, Deborah Xavier-Mis

Thank you Extension Volunteers

"Karen McGinty helps us with our Gwinnett BSC volunteering report each month. She is also a huge help keeping track of MGEV data. She is my right hand woman for everything Master Gardener. She always receives a special award at our annual Master Gardener award ceremony, but I feel she needs special recognition beyond what I provide. Even during the pandemic when many volunteers stepped back, Karen was here to support us in so many ways. She is absolutely the best!" -UGA Extension, Gwinnett County, Lisa Klein

"WH Smith has been a Master Gardener Extension Volunteer for 21 years. During those years he has volunteered 6,109.85 hours. He has served as Carroll County Master Gardener Association president as well as president for the Georgia Master Gardener Association. He continues to serve and be an asset during our annual plant sale by helping customers with their planting suggestions. UGA Extension Carroll County honored WH Smith as their Master Gardener of the Year at their recent volunteer appreciation dinner." -UGA Extension, Carroll County, Paula Burke


Follow our social media outlets for more Volunteer Appreciation Week posts! We have a virtual celebration packed with pictures, stories, shout-outs, and way-to-goes. You might just recognize a face or two! If you don't use social media, head to our Trellis Blog for the same content.