Manatee Master Gardener volunteers Support Each Other

By Lisa Hickey, Urban Horticulture Extension Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County

Three women standing in work clothes in front of a house they are painting

Master Gardener volunteers Rebecca Cantrell, Patricia Trisch, and Debbie Lansing at the Plant-A-Pail community outreach program.

Debbie Lansing and Rebecca Cantrell

A special bond is commonly formed between Master Gardener trainees or between trainees and their mentor.

Rebecca and Debbie became friends through the annual MG training program of 2015. They studied together and got a high score on their final exams in classroom materials and plant identification. But their friendship did not end there.

They volunteered together in the plant clinic, garden days, and on several committees. In 2016, Rebecca lost her husband unexpectedly. Debbie was there supporting her through the sorrow. Late 2016, Debbie encouraged Rebecca to hike the Appalachian trail with her to help through her sadness. Both had a wonderful experience.

Since then, the two are often spending special occasions together. Their friendship bond has been rewarding to watch as an instructor. The Master Gardener program opens more than a learning experience for Florida residents.

April is National Volunteer Month, when we celebrate the work that volunteers do year-round. Volunteer Month recognizes and promotes the spirit of service, and raises awareness about how volunteering changes lives and strengthens communities.