Master Gardener Winter School 2015 - by Pennie Hendrick

The University of Tennessee Extension Master Gardener Winter School was held in Murfreesboro, Tennessee February 26 and 27 2015.  Beginning with our Mission:

The Tennessee Master Gardener Program promotes environmental stewardship
through a network of volunteers who provide information and education
to Tennessee communities in home gardening and related areas.

The two days were filled with presentations, lectures and discussion groups packed full of information.  From the introduction of Natalie Bumgarner, PhD our new Tennessee Extension Master Gardener State Coordinator, to the panel discussion on GMO's- Who, What, Why? and small discussion groups on social media, junior master gardener programs, advanced master gardeners and presentations of awards for excellence there was something for everyone.  My favorite speaker was Janet Carson, Extension Horticulture Specialist, from the University of Arkansas cooperative Extension Service. Her presentation titled "Local Identities, Shared Vision"  was an inspired talk on the Master Gardener Program in Arkansas filled with wonderful ideas on projects, mentoring, education, growing the program and incentives for Master Gardeners.  The awards for excellence showed the ingenuity and hard work of Master Gardeners across the state and in particular I must mention our neighbors from Bradley County.  The Master Gardeners from Bradley County have a special program for Junior Master Gardeners, with a catch!  These Junior Master Gardeners are hand picked from a group of juvenile delinquents.  Two 12 week programs coincide with the regular school calendar and offer these children an opportunity for learning and growing within a structured environment.  Acquiring skills in gardening hands-on and giving back to the community with service hours these children upon completion of the program have the opportunity to have their record expunged.  To date, of the 65 or so students that have completed the program only 3 have returned to the juvenile system.  In closing I will leave you with this quote that was shared with us:

"Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.  It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth"

Thomas Jefferson


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