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Seeds For Thought

A newsletter of the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State

May 2023 Volume 23, Issue 2

From the President

~~ Tana Hasart, MGFWS President

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From a gardener’s perspective, if winter is the season for planning, spring is the season for hope. This adage proves true for the work of the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State as well.

MGFWS winter work focused on goal setting and planning for a remarkably busy and important year. Four regional 50th Anniversary events, the 2023 Advanced Education Conference, website projects, and work with our incredible Board show great promise. Our most important goal, however, is to connect with you at the local level.

The past two years saw huge reliance on Zoom and other technology tools for connection. While these methods were critical during a time when we could not meet in person, human connection always proves to be the much-preferred means of communicating.

As we look at this hopeful season, our focus is on gathering information directly from you about how we can best serve the various Foundation Chapters from across the state. Are there partnerships, like the booth at the Northwest Flower and Garden Festival and the Unification Website Project, that will take advantage of pooled resources (both human and financial)? Can we increase Board knowledge and skill through workshops and other training sessions? Are there more effective means we can use to share and gather information that will be used to strengthen both local and MGFWS efforts?

We believe the answer to the above is “Yes!” So, watch for more information, coming your way soon, about listening sessions coming to your area of the state.

Seeds for Thought is just one means for living out our MGFWS purpose – to educate and financially support the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program and its volunteers. The articles contained in each edition focus on skill-building while aligning with Program Priorities. Enjoy this spring edition and stay tuned for more hopeful developments as we move forward through 2023.

Seeds of a Movement

~~ Jennifer Marquis, Statewide Program Leader

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Jennifer Marquis

Seeds of a Movement: 50 years ago. Master Gardeners began with WSU-trained volunteers. Almost a non-starter, the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program has a number of WSU faculty, staff, and volunteers to thank for the grassroots movement that is now an intercontinental phenomenon. From the Wesenbergs and Scheers to the Gibbys and the Collmans, all members of these founding families were a part of making the program what it is today. The linked story captures the essence of how our program came to be, highlights the long hours that committed faculty, staff, and volunteers put into establishing the program in our state and across the nation and speaks to how we have evolved over time to meet community needs. Read the linked article to find out how station wagons made their way into supporting program success.

Volunteers like Bob Barker in Whatcom County and Pat Munts in Spokane County tell their stories about all that the Extension Master Gardener Program means to them. Pierce County’s Ollie Bond, a self-proclaimed ‘mental gardener’ earned his certification in 1978 and continues to be an active Extension Master Gardener today. Vicki Kocha in Clallam County is a multi-generational master gardener. Her grandmother, Virginia Woolf certified in 1975, and her mother Karin in the 80’s making three generations of master gardeners. Did you know that in the early years of the Program, volunteers were required to get a pesticide license? Personally, I’m glad we do not have to do that today.

Our program means so many different things to so many different people. For me, it’s about being a part of something bigger than myself. I am a big believer in the power of volunteers and in the importance of educational outreach and the active learning that results in building resilient communities.

I am humbled and honored to be in this position at this time. My time with the Extension Master Gardener program has been an incredible journey. I’ve learned so much from volunteers about life, how to raise my kids, my career, and my leadership style and abilities. Most importantly, I’ve learned that extension master gardener volunteers become close friends and family. They support each other, celebrate each other, and are proud to be extension master gardener volunteers.

The WSU Extension Master Gardener Program will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a series of public events, the next being on May 20th in ProsserAdditional celebrations follow in spring and summer at Wenatchee and Mount Vernon.

The celebration culminates with the WSU Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference, Sept. 27-30, at Tacoma.

Read the Seeds of a Movement and watch the video to gather a full picture of the history of our program.

Benton-Franklin County Master Gardeners Win International Award

~~ Elaine Chapman, Benton-Franklin County Master Gardener

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The Benton-Franklin County Extension Master Gardeners (MG) Program will be honored this June at the International Master Gardener Conference in Overland Park, Kansas for its work with incarcerated youth. The “Juvenile Justice Center (JJC) Project” received the first-place David Gibby Search for Excellence (SFE) Award in the Youth Category. This prestigious award recognizes the outstanding volunteer work of Extension MGs throughout the United States, Canada, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, and is meant to highlight excellent ideas and programs that demonstrate meaningful contributions to communities so that they can be replicated by other MG groups. The awards are named for Dr. David Gibby of Washington State University who in 1973 helped create the Extension MG program.

In the project, MGs work with youth incarcerated at the Benton-Franklin County JJC in Kennewick, Washington. The project goals are not only to educate these youth on basic gardening techniques but to foster self-esteem and cultivate a sense of belonging through giving back to the community. MGs provide science-based gardening instruction using WSU Extension training and information, emphasizing hands-on activities and partnering with JJC staff, the Kennewick School District (KSD), and the County 4-H program to accomplish these goals.

Three wheelbarrows full of produce grown by the JJC Youth.
Fruits of JJC Youth labor (Summer 2022) – Photo by Bill Dixon

The JJC Project began very simply and inexpensively in 2014 as an outgrowth of the Extension MG’s Community Garden program; with the support of JJC management, MGs worked with JJC youth to build 8 raised beds in an unused facility outdoor area using materials donated by community businesses and leftover from MG Demonstration Garden activities. Under MG guidance, JJC youth initially used these beds to raise vegetables for local Food Banks and flowers distributed to nearby nursing homes. JJC staff noted the enthusiasm and improved behavior of youth working in the garden and were receptive to MG suggestions for expanding the program. The JJC Project now includes an enlarged outdoor garden with an improved irrigation system (designed and implemented by JJC youth under the guidance of MGs and JJC staff in 2022), a hoop house, and two indoor grow facilities built in unused cell pods (the second completed in 2022). Besides continuing to supply Food Banks and local nursing homes, JJC youth now provide the majority of transplants used in other Benton-Franklin County Extension MG educational and low-income community garden programs. In 2022 alone, JJC youth donated over 2000 pounds of fresh produce to local Food Banks and distributed over 800 transplants through a separate Extension MG “Container Class Program” where low-income families without ready access to garden plots are given supplies, transplants, and training in container gardening. JJC youth also donated additional transplants to Food Banks and clients of other local nonprofits (e.g., Habitat for Humanity) with which the Benton-Franklin County Extension MGs have established relationships.

Learning is not a one-way street with the JJC Project. MG volunteers report having former (i.e., released) JJC youth come up to them in grocery stores or other public places to thank them for the program and tell them about their current gardens. These occurrences highlight not only the positive impact of the project on incarcerated youth but its impact on MG volunteers. There is a growing realization that JJC youth are not necessarily hardened criminals but kids who made a mistake and who, with community encouragement and support, can become valued, contributing members of society. Alice Allison, Education Committee chairperson for Benton-Franklin County Extension MGs and overseer/coordinator of the JJC Project, notes that the partnerships with JJC staff, KSD teachers, and 4-H—along with the support of the MG Foundation of Benton-Franklin County, individual businesses willing to supply materials, and local civic groups have been invaluable in allowing the program to thrive and expand.

Congratulations to all members of the Benton-Franklin County Extension MG Program involved in the JJC Project for this well-deserved international recognition and, most importantly, thank you for all your dedicated efforts in improving your community through this impactful, innovative project.

2023 WSU Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference

~~ Debbie Benbow, 2023 Conference Chair and Chelan County Master Gardener

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Registration for the 2023 WSU Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference is now open! You won’t want to miss this year’s conference as we celebrate 50 years of the Extension Master Gardener Program.

Learn the latest in gardening techniques and discoveries, refresh your gardening know-how, and grow your own skills to help other gardeners be successful. We’re even planning a 50th Birthday party!

  • Choose from 35 classes taught by top-notch instructors
  • Earn CE credits
  • Be inspired by keynote speaker Michael Blackstock, writer and visual artist
  • Network with like-minded garden enthusiasts
  • Attend amazing tours


Advanced Education Logo.

Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State Awards

~~Patricia Bosh, Co-Chair MGFWS Awards Committee and Cowlitz County Master Gardener

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The State Master Gardener of the Year (MGoY) Award is to identify and reward the active WSU Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Volunteer who has best demonstrated a commitment to the Master Gardener Program, provided leadership at the state and county levels, has had a significant statewide or broader impact on the MG program, and has left a lasting contribution to the WSU EMG Program.

The State MGoY Award is focused on recognizing volunteers that have had a positive impact on the WSU EMG Program across the state.  The recipients of the State MGoY Award in the past and future have and will make contributions in a number of areas, having had a positive impact regionally to statewide.  The award’s recipients have provided leadership within and outside their own county. They have used their own skills of teaching, mentoring, or developing ideas, served on committees and project teams for the WSU EMG Program, MGFWS, or the AEC.  Every nominee’s contribution is unique and no candidate is expected to have contributed in all of the Master Gardeners Program.  All nominations are accepted. However, the nominee with the greatest breadth and depth of contributions and positive impacts will likely receive the annual award.  The only sure disqualifier is when no one becomes the nominator and does the hard work of preparing and submitting a nomination! 

The MGFWS Ed LaCrosse Distinguished Service Award recognizes a person who has had a significant statewide or broader impact on the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program or who has acted on behalf of the MGFWS board with commitment. Their contributions have value and are sustainable and replicable across the state. Their contributions have become a lasting legacy.

Nominees need not be a WSU Master Gardener.

The MGFWS Media Award recognizes an individual who frequently contributes to one or more Washington media covering garden topics, education, demonstrations, etc. emphasizing the WSU Extension Master Gardener Program and making a significant and enduring positive impact on the program. The recipients show mastery of one or more forms of media – print, radio, web, social, photography, film, video, music, and/or mobile apps. They have attained prominence in their chosen media as evidenced by shows, followings, views, publishing, sales, etc. The key elements of the recipient’s work distinguish their contributions as uniquely worthy.

For more information on making a nomination for one of the above awards or to check out last year’s award recipients, visit our Award Winners Page

Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County Celebrating 25 Years!

~~Pam Roberts, Thurston County Master Gardener

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The Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County is celebrating 25 years of support for the Master Gardener Program. We were incorporated in March 1998 for the purposes of being “solely educational and charitable in furtherance of the Master Gardener Program in the State of Washington”. Our members have raised thousands of dollars to provide education and information on horticulture to the citizens of Thurston County. In addition, we have supported infrastructure in the three beautiful demonstration gardens maintained by the Master Gardener Program: Dirt Works, Closed Loop Park, and Farmers Market Garden.

In 2005 the Articles of Incorporation were amended to include the Thurston County Master Recycler Composter Program. We welcome anyone to become a Foundation member and one doesn’t have to be a Master Gardener or Master Recycler Composter to join our organization. On to the next 25 years!

logo of the Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County

Extension Master Gardener 50th Commemorative Magazine Now Available!

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The 50th Anniversary Master Gardener keepsake magazine has over fifty full-color pages celebrating 50 years of the Extension Master Gardener Program. Read about how the program started in Washington State in 1973, current points of pride throughout the WSU Master Gardener Program, and a look to the future.

2023 Home & Garden Show – Grays Harbor & Pacific Counties

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2023 Spring Plant Sale – Clallam County

Seeds for Thought is a quarterly publication of the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State. Submissions, corrections, and comments can be emailed to the Editor, Erin Landon

Copyright 2023 Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State