Master gardeners celebrate 10 years of flowers and fun

December 28, 2006
BY MARIA SOBCZAK - 2007 MASTER GARDENER PRESIDENT

To paraphrase a grand old tune, "What a difference a decade makes, just 87,600 little hours, brought the fun and the flowers, where it used to look plain."

That's just my crazy way of letting everyone know that the Victoria County Master Gardeners are celebrating 10 years as an educational, literary and charitable association of the Texas Cooperative Extension and are moving into their 11th year in 2007.

The county's first master gardener class took place in the spring of 1997 with 21 members becoming certified Texas Master Gardeners. In total, 234 individuals have completed their 50 plus hours of training, and 159, or 68 percent, have become certified master gardeners. Presently, we still have 109 active members or 69 percent, and this year an additional 29 have just graduated from the training class to potentially add to this next year. The new class will spend 2007 as interns, completing their required 50 hours of volunteer time toward full membership next December.

Each year, the association has entered statewide competitions, garnering 20 awards over those 10 years, proudly displaying the plaques on the walls of the Extension Office building, not forgetting to mention that several are for first-place honors in the whole state of Texas.

With the anticipated grand opening of the expansion of the Victoria Educational Gardens, which we so often and lovingly refer to as the VEG, I am sure that we will gain many more notable awards. You can see it taking shape even now, and I know when it is completed, it will be a sight to behold, thanks to the direction and dedication of Pat Plowman and the volunteers who are working so diligently each week.

As the incoming president of the association for the 2007 year, I am humbled to have been elected to that office and look forward to working with a fantastic group of people.

My fellow officers are President-elect Helen Boatman, Vice-President Charlie Neumeyer, Secretary Barbara Thedin, Treasurer Charlotte Sartor and Treasurer-elect Alton Meyer. Our state directors are Jolene Molder for 2007 and Roy Cook for 2007 and 2008, with the alternate directors, Susan Cohen for 2007 and Kay Dillingham for 2007 and 2008.

Many of our officers, including myself, and lots and lots of our members are former school teachers or administrators or have been involved with the school systems in one way or another. Therefore, the importance of education and sharing of knowledge is near and dear to our hearts.

Another project currently under way is the creation of the Military Honor Garden. Anyone wishing to honor a friend or family member who served or is serving in the Armed Forces can purchase one or more pavers that will be set in that area next to the Officer's Club. This is being made available to the public as well as to the master gardeners.

The pavers will be engraved with the person's name, branch of the service and dates of service. For more information, call the Extension Office at 361-575-4581 or the chairperson, Carmen Price, at 361-573-0512.

Through our continuing partnership with the Victoria Advocate, we want to offer the opportunity to answer questions that the community may have regarding VEG, good gardening practices, practical applications of the knowledge gained in the training classes and helpful hints each month with our Ground Rules and Tools articles. Along with this article, we are providing a form that can be cut out and sent in to us requesting more information on topics that you in the community would like to have covered. The address for the Victoria County Master Gardeners Association is P.O. Box 1723 Victoria, Texas 77902.

Lastly, I want to share at least one of my resolutions for this coming year. As groups grow in numbers, the close-knit camaraderie is harder to maintain. One of my focal points will be to keep that feeling in our master gardeners' group - to encourage the "oldies" to get to know the "new guys" and all of us "in-betweeners" as well. With the expansion at VEG, more time and manpower will be needed to keep it looking well-groomed and inviting. It will take many willing and friendly members who can work together to reach that common goal. Different ideas and personalities will have to mesh and that will require some patience, understanding and cooperation on everyone's part. Those who have been working at this the longest can help the rest of us see the vision and celebrate its completion.

Consider joining the next master gardener-training program this year. You will be glad you did.

To continue paraphrasing (and using much poetic license) from the aforementioned song: "There's a rainbow before us; skies above can't be stormy; since the first moment of planning to the end is demanding; what a difference a day makes and that difference is YOU."

Happy New Year.