From Master Gardener to UF/IFAS Extension Agent

By Deborah Levulis, Environmental Horticulture Extension Agent and Master Gardener program coordinator, UF/IFAS Extension Palm Beach County

A Master Gardener volunteer upon graduation in 2009 told me she would like to teach a component of the Master Gardener training on prohibited plants. Her background included teaching at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania and assisting with her family nursery. The Master Gardener took me through the class presentation she developed which I enjoyed.

She has since continued as an instructor for the Palm Beach County Master Gardener volunteer training sessions held twice per year, receiving excellent class evaluation ratings from trainees.

She took a position as the educational coordinator of our UF/IFAS Palm Beach County Mounts Botanical Garden and developed a wide range of programs for the garden that raised the garden’s educational program excellence for county residents and visitors.

When the UF/IFAS commercial horticulture Extension agent position opened she applied and accepted the position, she now teaches the green industries best management program, the professional landscape management program, and the native canopy program, water ambassadors program, and contributes to teaching components of the Master Gardener Volunteer program.

This year marks her eight years of teaching over sixteen trainings, educating over 320 Master Gardener trainees. This is one example of the many successfully trained Master Gardener volunteers who are volunteering over 14,000 hours and serving over 40,000 residents and visitors yearly with researched based Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension UF/IFAS horticulture information.

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.