Okaloosa MG Shares Her Passion for Education

By Larry Williams, Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, UF/IFAS Extension Okaloosa County

Lynda Penry has been an active Master Gardener in Okaloosa County since 2013. She has served as President-Elect and President of the Okaloosa County Master Gardener’s Association. She has won numerous awards, including the 2016 Outstanding Service to Youth Award. As a former educator with the Okaloosa County School System, she continues to share her talents and educational skills with youth through our school garden projects at Shalimar Elementary School and at Edwins Elementary School.

Lynda was instrumental in starting a successful Okaloosa County Master Gardener volunteers Study Group to improve the knowledge of the Master Gardener volunteers in certain areas of horticulture and plant sciences. The study group has been very beneficial in providing advanced training for the Master Gardener volunteers in a fun, interactive, and educational setting. A number of useful publications have been developed as a result of the study group, including a Dichotomous Weed Key document developed by Lynda that is used by many of the Master Gardener volunteers.

Lynda frequently assists Extension agents with their programs, helps at our workdays at both the main Extension office in Crestview, where she teaches landscape classes, at the Extension Annex demonstration landscape, and the plant nursery in Fort Walton Beach.

Lynda is a talented teacher with a pleasant and positive personality. She always has a smile.

When describing the study group that Lynda helped start, one of the other Master Gardener volunteers said, “It is fun learning and it works.” This is what Lynda has brought to our program — fun learning and it works, whether she is working with youth, adult gardeners, or other Master Gardener volunteers. Lynda is an outstanding Master Gardener volunteer in representing UF/IFAS Extension in Okaloosa County.

Three women smiling at the camera, with Lynda being far right

Lynda is far right in this photo, winning an award for Outstanding Service to Youth with Jennifer Yelverton (far left) and Taylor Wilken (center).

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.