University of Maryland Extension’s (UME) Master Gardener (MG) program is honored to share that three of our local county programs were selected as winners in the Search for Excellence by the International Master Gardener Conference. The awards were announced in 2018 and awarded this month during the 2019 International Master Gardener Conference in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
The Search for Excellence recognizes exceptional work of Extension Master Gardener volunteers not only throughout the United States but also in Canada and South Korea. Criteria for winning a Search for Excellence award requires that projects must be practical and simple to replicate, original and creative, and compatible with Extension and Extension Master Gardener missions. Applicants also must demonstrate that significant learning occurred both for Master Gardener volunteers and the audiences they serve.
The UME MG program in Baltimore County won third place in the award category for special needs audiences with their Gribbin Center Therapeutic Horticulture Garden Club. MG volunteers meet with a group at the Gribbin Center in Perry Hall, MD at least twice a month to lead them in therapeutic horticulture activities. During each session, participants engage in a short lesson followed by a hands-on activity. Participants build social skills and increase motor skills through the maintenance of a garden space where they invite visitors on an annual tour. Learn more about the Baltimore County Master Gardeners.
The UME MG program in Anne Arundel County won third place in the award category for workshops or presentations with their Ask A Master Gardener Library Workshop Series. MG volunteers conduct library workshops, in partnership with Anne Arundel County Public Libraries, to educate novice and experienced gardeners about environmentally-friendly gardening practices. Knowledgeable MG volunteers are on hand to answer the participants’ questions. These events are free and open to those interested in gardening, regardless of skill level or garden size. Check out where you can find visit their next Ask A Master Gardener Plant Clinic event!
The UME MG program in Montgomery County won third place in the award category for youth programs with their Growing Forward Youth Garden Program. MG volunteers from Montgomery County created the Growing Forward Youth Program because they enjoy working with kids, and know that teaching kids where their food comes from and how they can grow it in the future is essential. They created a fenced garden with raised beds that has allowed them to harvest nearly 700 pounds of food over 4 years, which was donated back to the families at the local community center. They entered potatoes and flowers grown by the kids in the local County Fair, and they won 7 ribbons. Find out more about when and where you can visit the Montgomery County MG volunteers!
The University of Maryland Extension is proud of our three award-winning counties, and of all the service our MG volunteers provide for the state. If you haven’t looked us up recently, take some time to learn more about all our work across the state and consider joining us at an upcoming event or taking the training to become a Master Gardener!
By Stephanie A. Mathias, Master Gardener Program Coordinator, University of Maryland Extension