Putnam Master Gardener Leads by Example

By Prissy Fletcher, Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, UF/IFAS Extension Putnam County

Cheryl Owen with short gray hair, sunglasses, and a green shirtLeading by example is one of the ways Master Gardener volunteers have an impact. Sometimes that includes setting an example within the group. Cheryl Owen has been active in the program since 2005 after transferring from another county. She is a huge advocate for sustainability in any fashion that is environmentally friendly.

At every monthly meeting, the volunteers were using plastic utensils, Styrofoam plates, and plastic cups to save time on washing dishes. These disposable items resulted in four 30-gallon trash cans being filled to capacity at every monthly meeting. There was also the environmental foot print that we left on the environment by contributing waste to the landfill. Cheryl felt so passionately about our negative contributions that she asked all volunteers to donate their extra plates, metal utensils, and cups for the monthly meetings.

By the next meeting, we had over 50 of each item, and the Master Gardener volunteers have been taking turns washing the dishes every month. They also saved $150 since they no longer needed to buy disposable items. And now we only need two of the trash cans instead of four, which makes the clean-up crew extremely happy!

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.