Forty Years of Master Gardener Volunteers
This year marks the 40th year of the Master Gardener Volunteer Program in Florida. Additionally, April is Volunteer Appreciation Month and we are highlighting the memories of a few of our long-serving volunteers. Thank you to all the Master Gardener Volunteers who serve throughout Florida, whether you've been serving a few days or a few decades!
Shirley "Daisy" Thompson – St. John's County
Shirley "Daisy" Thompson has just celebrated her 36th year as a Master Gardener Volunteer in St. John's County; she was trained in the county's first class.
Her first position was at a plant clinic at Ace Hardware and Home Depot; there she met a lovely couple, Clark and Alice Alger, who donated money for a huge garden in the center of Flagler Hospital. The garden would boast a fountain and four gazebos, plus umbrella-covered tables where visitors and employees could have lunch or just relax.
Daisy recalls, "The only wish they had was that Shirley Thompson be in charge of the garden! No pressure there!"
Daisy was able to handle the pressure though, and today she still volunteers there weekly and "enjoy[s] every minute of it." Her current project involves planting 90 bulbs for spring and summer floral color. Daisy is also a Florida Show Judge Emeritus and has judged all over Florida and Georgia. Additionally, she has done educational programs on pressing flowers to make personal cards for special occasions.
Daisy has a great interest in orchids, and is a member of the St. Augustine Orchid Club, which meets once a month. She has 17 orchids in her living room and many outside her home tucked into palm trees and other shaded places.
When asked about her favorite memory as a Master Gardener Volunteer, Daisy reflects that it was "when I received an engraved crystal bowl with my name and date of beginning this great journey on it and all the fine folks I have met and still communicate with often."
Her advice to all Master Gardener Volunteers is, "There is no stupid question; be kind and patient. Also remember that those who are asking you a question have moved to paradise from the cold tundra or desert. This is a whole new world of gardening."
- Next: Bert Orcutt, Brevard County
- Dale Galiano, St. Lucie County
- Liz Angelini, Pasco County
- Pat Collier, Baker County
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.