Master Gardener Professorship Awarded to Jim Davis

The Master Gardener Professorship is a faculty-recognition program, named in honor of Florida Master Gardener volunteers. The winner has been selected for 2016 and we would like to congratulate Jim Davis!

Jim Davis has been the Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator for Sumter County for the past three years and has been with UF/IFAS Extension for ten years. Additionally, Jim is a Florida Master Naturalist Instructor, a Green Industries Best Management Practices (GI-BMP) instructor, an Extension representative on the Florida Urban Forestry Council, outreach chair for the Nature Coast Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, and state chair for the Horticulture and Turfgrass Committee for the Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents.

Jim Davis holding snake skin during an outside demonstrationJim oversees the residential horticulture program, teaching county residents about the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles with a particular focus on irrigation. The monthly "Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ for New Residents" program is offered to those who have moved to the state within the past year.

Since it began in 2012, the program has reached 2,071 residents. An additional program specifically for residents of the Villages (an age-restricted community that covers portions of Sumter, Lake, and Marion counties) has reached 1,846 residents in the past year.

Based on exit surveys the training seems to be working; residents are adjusting irrigation run times based on seasonal weather, regularly checking irrigation systems for broken heads and leaks, and watering between the 2 am and 7 am recommended times.

Another of Jim's successful Extension programs is the Bug and Wildlife Camp for 4-H and other county youth. Just under 600 children have come though this camp program since it began in 2006. Students enjoy the program so much that some move on from being participants to program volunteers and assistants. Hailey, a Sumter County youth, first attended Bug and Wildlife camp nine years ago. Today she acts as a volunteer and assistant instructor at the camp, and praises the lessons she has learned, saying, "Bug camp has helped me to develop leadership skills." Hailey goes on to say that she's able to use the information she learn at camp on an everyday basis. "I can identify different bugs wherever I go, give scientific names, and I have even completed a science fair project on bugs! I would not be the person that I am today without some of the valuable skills that I have learned through Bug Camp."

The Master Gardener Distinguished Extension Professional and Enhancement Award provides a term professorship to a dedicated and outstanding Extension faculty member working with the Florida Master Gardener Program. Candidates are are selected by a committee of Master Gardener volunteers. Program and salary enhancement monies are awarded with the professorship.

Congratulations to Jim Davis on receiving the Master Gardener Professorship Award. His work for both the Master Gardener Program and for the residents of Sumter County is greatly appreciated.

Return to the October 2016 Neighborhood Gardener