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UF heralds local resident for volunteerism

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 By EILEEN GREENE

Special to the Citizen

John Myers, Nature Coast Master Gardener, was presented with the Florida State Outstanding Master Gardener Award. 

“It was a great honor,” Myers said. “But I feel all master gardeners should be recognized for the volunteer work they do. It's amazing people don't realize what master gardeners do to help the environment with efficient watering and correct fertilizer use. We're all volunteers, nobody gets paid, so it's not like we do it for monetary gain but to improve our communities. There are so many Nature Coast Master Gardeners who do so much, and I want to thank them.”                                                                                                          

This is a win for our Nature Coast Master Gardeners representing Levy, Dixie and Gilchrist counties, but a greater win for the communities that benefit from the excellent work and expertise of volunteers like John Myers.                                                                                                                    

   The Morrill Act of 1862 established land-grant universities to educate citizens in agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts and other practical professions. Extension was formalized in 1914, with the Smith-Lever Act. It established the partnership between the agricultural colleges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide for cooperative agricultural extension work, in order to develop practical applications of research knowledge, and give instruction and practical demonstrations of existing or improved practices or technologies in agriculture. 

   To assist the very busy Extension Agents, the Master Gardener Program was established in Washington State in 1972. There are literally thousands of Extension offices around the country today with Extension Master Gardener programs existing in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Master Gardener program is an example of an effective cooperative effort between government resources, educational institutions and those of us on the small farm, in the garden or home landscape.    

The Nature Coast Master Gardeners are always in search of men and women with an interest in this worthy volunteer organization. Applications for the 2011 Master Gardener training class are available online from our website: www.ncmgfl.org.  Applications may be picked up in person at the Levy County Extension Office, 625 North Hathaway Avenue, in Bronson.  Applications can also be requested by e-mail by writing to savemygarden@gmail.com, or call Ms. Audrey at 486-5131 to request by mail. Classes will meet once per week for eight weeks beginning Thursday, March 31, 2011.  A $25-non-refundable fee is payable the first day of class. Some scholarships are available.

Also, we invite interested applicants to bring a covered dish and attend our Winter Speaker Meeting and Luncheon, Friday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to noon at Fanning Springs City Hall, 17651 NW 90th Court, Fanning Springs. The guest speaker will be Annette Long presenting ‘Waters Journey,’ a video documentary. Attendees will meet current master gardeners and gain a better idea about our Tri-county program.