Community of Volunteer Master Gardeners Grows in Sarasota-Manatee


The Master Gardener Volunteer community recently hosted a special group of combined “Class of 2022” graduates who spent 12 weeks training with UF/IFAS extension offices in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

More than 30 new MGVs graduated on May 20 after participating in online and in-person classes focusing on everything from plant identification and pathology to botany, soils, entomology, and more. .

“We are thrilled to welcome these knowledgeable new volunteers and are grateful to the members of the Manatee County Extension Team for adapting their approach to welcoming our interns into their classroom,” said Lee Hayes Byron, director of the ‘UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County. “Due to a vacancy, we could not have offered the course this year.”

The Master Gardener Volunteer program, started in Florida in 1979 and administered by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), offers a route for those interested in gardening, landscaping and community services to help extension workers deliver awareness, education and projects.

The 15th Annual Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Sale in October, sponsored by UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County, raised more than $23,000 – a record for the event.

“The Master Gardener Volunteer training program is intense but rewarding,” said Crystal Snodgrass, director of UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County. “This class of graduates got to experience both traditional and online education, equipping them with the tools to serve customers in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The MGV program includes university-designed training on a range of local issues, including sustainable growth, Florida-friendly landscaping, and leadership skills. The program offers a myriad of volunteer services, from working with landowners on irrigation and landscape issues to providing advice on plants and pests.

Tribute to the new MGVs

About 5,000 Floridians have joined the Master Gardener Volunteer program, including about 100 volunteers in the Manatee County Extension program and 160 in Sarasota County.

The Class of 2022 of Sarasota County graduates includes Janis Alberti, Randi Broida, Tracie Cady, Linda Collins, Bryn Durgin, Wilma Holley, Marla M. Hough, Marsha Jordan, Lake Diana, Pat Marchesano, Maggie Richardson, Krystyna Sznurkowski, Christina Tuckerand Ilona Vrba.

Manatee County graduates include Lillian Bonet Mui, Catherine Charles, Lucinda Jane Chastain, Vincent DeVivo, Terry Fisher, Kyle Hunter Keating, Elizabeth Ann King, Frances Kurlinsky, Brigitte McCarthy, Kaylie McCarthy, Julie L. McKamey, Nancy Porter, Connie Scribner, Lisa Smithand Kristine DelVecchio.

Residents interested in joining the Volunteer Master Gardener program should contact the outreach office. In Sarasota County, call 941-861-5000 or email [email protected] In Manatee County, call 941-722-4524 or email [email protected]

Submitted by Sarasota County and Manatee County Extension Services


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