In 2022, Kent and Sussex Master Gardeners volunteered services valued at more than half a million dollars — $608,923, to be precise — in outreach programs on behalf of the Delaware …
In 2022, Kent and Sussex Master Gardeners volunteered services valued at more than half a million dollars — $608,923, to be precise — in outreach programs on behalf of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System.
The figure was announced at the 36th annual awards luncheon for Southern Delaware Master Gardeners held at Plantation Lakes in Millsboro.
Statewide, with the addition of New Castle County’s hours, the 2022 economic impact of the Delaware Master Gardener program packed a powerful punch worth $685,615 donated to the First State.
Kent and Sussex Master Gardeners train and often meet and celebrate together.
In Kent and Sussex counties combined, 122 active volunteers contributed 20,328 hours computed at a professional hourly rate of $29.95, a figure provided by Independentsector.org with a national average rate for professional volunteers.
For southern Delaware, the average individual Master Gardener volunteered 158 hours.
Master Gardeners are ubiquitous across Delaware. Each county boasts a regular slate of educational programs for Delaware residents. Since 1986, Master Gardeners continue to present programs at schools and appear at information booths at countless public functions.
They host public tours and workshops at their own teaching or demonstration gardens and conduct affordable plant sales. They continue to present award-winning programs such as the “Misadventures of Peter Rabbit” puppet show and “Garden Smart, Garden Easy” for those with physical and time challenges.
Throughout the First State, Master Gardeners serve as valuable partners with other organizations such as the Food Bank of Delaware. As community and school gardens sprout up across Delaware, Master Gardeners offer support in planting the seeds of success.
After a two-year hiatus that restricted many of these efforts during the COVID pandemic, 2022 marked a successful year and a full return to their mission and vocation.
The annual awards luncheon served as an opportunity to celebrate and showcase volunteer excellence.
In Kent County, the program is coordinated and administered by Megan Pleasanton of Delaware State University. Sussex’s counterpart is Tracy Wootten from the University of Delaware.
Extension Directors of both institutions, Rose Ozbay, DSU and Michelle Rodgers, UD, extolled the value of volunteers who deliver regular Extension resources and programs to the public. Master Gardeners comprise a significant block of Extension outreach volunteers, second only to 4-H Leaders.
The coveted Master Gardener of the Year Award is selected by the county Extension program coordinators from peer nominations received by the end of the year. Karla Boulter of Dover and Mary Noel of Bridgeville were celebrated for their above-and-beyond accomplishments and leadership in 2022.
The Lifetime Volunteer Award recognizes ten years of membership and/or 1,000 hours of volunteer career service. Honorees were Marjorie Bushong of Ocean View, Sandi Dew of Seaford, Linda Newsome of Dover, Richard Petrecca of Georgetown, Anita Smith of Smyrna, Linda Sperry of Felton, Ellen Trier of Dover and Gainor Urian of Seaford.The Chairperson/President’s Award is bestowed upon a deserving volunteer at the discretion of that county’s Master Gardener volunteer leadership. In Kent County, the award went to Charlotte Clive of Camden-Wyoming and in Sussex, Judy Pfister of Millsboro received the honor.
For 1,000 hours or more of volunteer service and receiving a gold badge were: Karen Abate of Camden-Wyoming, Tina Donofrio of Rehoboth Beach, Karen Kollias of Lewes, Linda Newsome of Dover and Robb Reyes of Lewes.
Honored for 500 hours and receiving silver badges were Marian Reedy of Selbyville, Anita Smith of Smyrna and Verna Thompson of Felton.
For more information, visit the Delaware Master Gardener website to learn more about their program at http://www.udel.edu/0010264