Polk County Appreciates Its Master Gardener Volunteers

By Anne Yasalonis, UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator

The UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Master Gardener Volunteer Program appreciates…

Patsy talking with a girl about a large bright green plant in what looks like a classroom

Patsy Glasscock

Patsy Glasscock

Patsy has been a Florida Master Gardener in Polk County since 2015 and is instrumental in our youth gardening project. She works tirelessly to educate Polk County kids at Agri-Fest, where over 6,000 4th-graders learn about horticulture. She teaches worm farming and plant propagation at summer camps and has also been involved with our Executive Committee. She is a team-player, hard-worker and is very passionate about getting kids involved in gardening activities.

Betty Harrison and Celia Beamish

Betty in an apron reading Bug Lady in colorful letters and Celia standing next to her

Betty Harrison and Celia Beamish

All Master Gardener volunteers in Polk County know where to take the insects they find in their yards—to Betty, the "bug lady"! Betty has been instrumental in starting our insect collection and also enjoys taking it on the road for us. Her "pet-a-bug" display is a huge hit with both adults and kids. She teaches people not to be afraid of insects and of their many benefits. She is a huge pollinator fan and works to educate residents about our important friends. Betty is kind, easy to talk to and extremely knowledgeable. She works with youth, in our plant clinic, at events, teaches adult workshops and is involved with our Executive Committee. She is full of energy and a joy to be around.

Celia Beamish is the past president of the Master Gardener program in Polk County. She is extremely knowledgeable, easy-going, and is always quick to ask, "How can I help?" and "Just call me if you have something for me to do," which is invaluable to her Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator! She is very skilled at diffusing tensions and helping volunteers work together. Celia has been a Master Gardener since 2008 and is one of our dedicated speaker’s bureau volunteers, and is often requested by various groups. She is a member of our Executive Committee, helped organize our annual banquet, and started a new marketing project for us—painted rocks!

Dave Dodson

Four women and one man standing outside in front of a Master Gardener tent, presumably at a plant sale

Left to right: Master Gardener Michelle Fulmer, FFL Program Coordinator Julie Schelb, Master Gardener Betty Harrison and Master Gardener Dave Dodson

Dave Dodson is a reliable volunteer who helps keep the organization running smoothly. As our "VMS expert," Dave is there to help out anyone who need assistance, quickly posts events and updates, runs reports, and gathers and files our annual agreements. His behind-the-scenes work is time-consuming and vital to our organization. Not only does he volunteer behind the scenes, but he is also quick to help staff educational booths at events, work with kids at Agri-Fest, and help coordinate our Master Gardener Volunteer training class each year. And he is also a past president and serves on our Executive Committee! His dedication to the organization and easygoing attitude is appreciated by all the Master Gardener volunteers in Polk County.

Michelle Fulmer

Lady in blue shirt and straw hat talking to an older gentleman outside

Michelle Fulmer talking to a gardener.

Michelle Fulmer is one of our newest active Master Gardener volunteers, having graduated in 2017. But being new has not stopped Michelle! She has started a weekly shift in our plant clinic, helps staff our booth at gardening events, works with our speaker’s bureau, and helps create presentations and games to use in teaching. Michelle is enthusiastic, happy to help, creative, and excited to learn—great qualities for a Master Gardener volunteer!

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.