Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jefferson County Master Gardeners Celebrate 40 Years of Service by Cherie Luke

Jefferson County's 2015 Class of Master Gardeners (left to right): Kerry Poppe, Lynnea Ossello, Shawn Dadisman, Bonnie Kaake, Kom Lee, Kathy Kramer, Cindy Gibson. Not pictured: Peter Drake, Michelle Morris, Megan Morris

In 1972, Dr. David Gibby, a Washington State University Cooperative Extension Agent, could not keep up with the public’s demand for basic gardening information. Dr. Gibby and other extension staff came up with the idea to train amateur gardeners. The plan was that Washington State University Cooperative Extension faculty would train the gardeners to answer home gardening questions. In return for this education, the gardeners would become volunteers. The Master Gardener program now exists in all 50 states and nationally the extension Master Gardener volunteers answer millions of questions every year. This year the Jefferson County Master Gardeners are proud to be celebrating their 40th anniversary of service to Jefferson County residents. 

Master Gardeners in Jefferson County come from many backgrounds and often from other areas of the US. What they all have in common is a love for gardening and the desire to help others succeed in their own gardening efforts. 

After attending extensive training, Jefferson County Master Gardeners volunteer 50 hours their first year and 24 hours in subsequent years. This dynamic group of volunteers have proven to be a driving force in the county. Following are some of the contributions they made in 2015:
  • Answered 1,021 calls at the extension office care call center;
  • Participated in farmers markets in Golden, Evergreen, Arvada, and Southwest Plaza, where they provided science-based gardening information to over 5,000 people;
  • Worked in the horticulture gardens at the fairgrounds where 2,021 pounds of fresh produce was donated to Jefferson County food banks;  
  • Assisted in the county diagnostic clinic to help the public identify insects, weeds, and plant problems;  
  • Maintained the beautiful Courage Gardens at the county office building.