A year in the life of an OSU Extension master gardener volunteer

By Pam Baytos

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

This year was packed full of events. Even though it’s winding down, we’ve already started working on 2019 events to help our communities learn new things about gardening.

March brought us a new slate of 20 gardeners who took our training course. Experienced mentors helped them work on their volunteer hours, with over half getting those 50 hours in less than five months.

Our Spring Seminar attracted gardeners from all over Ohio. The 2019 Spring Seminar is already planned for April 27, and will feature two keynote speakers – landscape expert Laura Deeter, professor at Ohio State University, and Keith Kaiser, executive director of Pittsburgh Botanic Garden. Breakouts and make-and-takes will be highlights yet again.

Master gardener volunteers taught horticulture topics at the monthly Coffee With The Masters and helped gardeners enhance the beauty of their gardens through the Garden Art Series.

The popular Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic opened for business April 1 and served more than 1,000 people before closing Oct. 31. Soil testing increased this year, helping gardens all over the county with proper applications of fertilizer and soil amendments. Volunteers identified insects as well as diseases, and helped gardeners with their gardening issues.

The Local Flavor Program was hosted at 12 urban farms and community gardens, where volunteers shared their gardening knowledge and learned from our hosts. It’s amazing to see the wonderful work enhancing life in the city of Youngstown. Some gardens hosted barbecues at these events to enhance neighborhood engagement.

Our Good Natured Garden Partners allows volunteers to introduce the wonders of gardening to children. Groups in the city get seeds and plants to grow all summer, ending with a vegetable show before school starts to celebrate the harvest. GROW Urban Farm hosted the event again, and more than 50 youth won blue ribbons and received new tools for the next gardening season.

The Canfield Fair featured Grandma’s Garden display along with information stations that allowed us to interact with our visitors with gardening interests. Other activities included a plant exchange, a speaker’s bureau, the display gardens at the OSU Extension Office and much more.

We’re preparing for our 12th Wreaths for Veterans event where we will honor 300 veterans at North Jackson Cemetery on Dec. 8.

We’re also getting ready for our annual recognitions banquet, honoring volunteers for their hard work this year.

At our recent state conference, we received some awards, including the selection of our own Marilyn McKinley as a Master Gardener of the Year, one of just five in the state.

To learn more about our programs, visit mahoning.osu.edu.

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