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!
Liz Angelini – Pasco County
Liz describes her Master Gardener Volunteer group as being like family to her — indeed, she and her husband John were volunteers together until he passed away in December 2017.
In 1998, with her youngest off to college and her own retirement, Liz was finally able to take the Master Gardener Volunteer class she'd be interested in since moving to Florida from New Jersey; while she was at it, she convinced her husband to join her.
Despite a small group of Pasco County Master Gardener Volunteers, Liz remembers that they were able to get some projects going; the trip to EPCOT to work the Master Gardener Volunteer information booth was "an early highlight."
As Pasco County's program grew, so did the opportunities and work of Liz and her fellow Master Gardener Volunteers. In discussing her time as a volunteer, Liz recalls, "I was very interested in bonsai and took a course with a visiting Japanese bonsai master which got me addicted to this part of horticulture. My husband, being a well-known artist, had a natural gift for this art. When our [Master Gardener Volunteer] group started giving seminars we volunteered to give demos of 'Beginning Bonsai.' John would actually make one while I did all the talking." Unsurprisingly she describes this as "quite a popular seminar."
Ever the industrious pair, John and Liz expanded with "Grandpa's Attic," a tented spot at the local plant sales selling used gardening equipment, with proceeds going back to the program.
Liz's passion for giving interesting seminars continues. "Just recently my friend and I gave one on hypertufa and in the fall I will be giving a couple on making pine cone wreaths for the holidays. I am also in the process of developing a seminar on the different uses of all the flowers we grow. I hope to be able to contribute and share the pleasures of gardening for a long time to come."
Additionally, in the interest of sharing the joys of being a Master Gardener Volunteer with others, Liz has given up doing EPCOT days, "so that the new MGs get a chance at it!"
- Bert Orcutt, Brevard County
- Dale Galiano, St. Lucie County
- Pat Collier, Baker County
- Shirley "Daisy" Thompson, St. Johns 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.