2015 Conference Recap

Master Gardener volunteers Expand Their Horticulture Knowledge

2015 Outstanding Master Gardener Team Nassau County

Elisabeth Smith and Elaine Roblez from Nassau County accepting the 2015 Master Gardener Award for Outstanding Team from Dr. Saquib Mukhtar, Associate Dean for Extension and Agricultural Programs Leader.

Almost 350 Florida Master Gardener volunteers gathered in Kissimmee October 18 to 21, 2015 to receive horticulture education at the 34th Continued Training Conference.

The conference kicked off with tours to Leu Gardens, Orange County Extension Demonstration Gardens, Disney Horticulture, and Gaylord Palms Resort. Leu Gardens tour participants were lucky enough to hear from Robert Bowden, director and renowned horticulturist. And, Disney horticulture participants got a behind the scenes look at how the amazing Disney topiaries are built.

Conference attendees experienced several keynote speakers including Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition and nature photographer, John Moran. Attendees also had the option to choose from 24 concurrent sessions that featured everything from edibles to turfgrass to nuisance wildlife.

More than 50 Master Gardener volunteers competed in the Plant Identification and Judging Contest. The contest includes identifying 200 plant samples in several different categories – woody ornamentals, flowers and foliage, fruits and nuts, and vegetables. This year's winning team was from Lake County.

A highlight of the conference was the awards banquet where outstanding Master Gardener programs were recognized for their projects in different areas. Master Gardener volunteers were recognized for their years of service including three Master Gardener volunteers who have volunteered for 35 years. In addition, several faculty were recognized for their exemplary work to the Florida Master Gardener Program.

Award Winners

  • Honorary Lifetime Master Gardener – Dr. Sydney Park Brown
  • Master Gardener Professorship – BJ Jarvis
  • Beautification and Enhancement – St. Johns County
  • Communications – Marion County
  • Demonstration Garden – Manatee County
  • Diversity and Inclusion – Sumter County
  • Educational Display – Palm Beach County
  • Educational Materials – Sumter County
  • Florida-Friendly Landscaping – Alachua County
  • Newsletter – Manatee County
  • Outstanding Florida Master Gardener – Luke Connor, Marion County
  • Outstanding Florida Master Gardener Team – Nassau County
  • Personal Communications – Lake County
  • Service to 4-H and Other Youth – Bay County
  • 35 Year Master Gardener volunteers:
    • Eileen Hart, Hillsborough County
    • Mary Kay Ross, Hillsborough County
    • Paula Smith, Martin County