- Author: Melissa G. Womack
UC Master Gardeners are known for their passion for gardening and their commitment to sharing knowledge with their communities. Today, we want to shine a light on some extraordinary individuals who have gone above and beyond in their roles as community connection leaders. These "Gardeners with Heart" have not only made a significant impact in their respective communities, but they have also inspired others to join them in making a difference. In this blog post, we will feature the incredible work of John Duran, Barry Hoffman, Hector Vera-Uribe, and Joyce Hill.
John Duran has been actively partnering with the UC CalFresh Healthy Living Program in Madera County for three years, working closely with low-income families. Fluent in both English and Spanish, John organizes events for parents and children to attend and brings in support and expertise from other special statewide programs such as the UC Master Food Preserver Program. He encourages youth to garden at home and follows up with site visits to schools for gardening support. John has a collaborative partnership with the Madera Unified School District that helps the community learn and engage with many of UC ANR's community-supporting programs.
Barry Hoffman has been a UC Master Gardener in Santa Clara County since 2017. Barry is a co-lead for the program's 4-acre flagship demonstration garden at Martial Park in San Jose. His dedication to the UC Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens and Educational Center at Martial Cottle Park is inspiring. Apart from his hands-on work in the garden, Barry writes a weekly newsletter, coordinates the teaching pavilion, and manages administrative duties for educational programs. His efforts have greatly enhanced the connection between the UC Master Gardeners in Santa Clara County and the community.
Hector Vera-Uribe, a UC Master Gardener volunteer in Stanislaus County, is known for his personable demeanor and generosity. ”Before I even knew he was helping others, I heard from these organizations that he had dropped by or even taught a class,” says Anne Schellman, Stanislaus Program Coordinator. Hector has played a key role in helping community gardens get started, providing the needed support to ensure success. Hector has been working with at least four sites across the county to improve food access by teaching communities how to grow vegetables. In addition to his work with community gardens, Hector has helped the UC Master Gardener Program expand its outreach by teaching vegetable gardening classes in Spanish, enabling a wider audience to benefit from his expertise.
Joyce Hill is a UC Master Gardener who meets the diverse needs of her community. After the tragic Camp Fire, Joyce Hill led a team of UC Master Gardeners to research and educate the public on wildfire preparedness and firewise landscaping. Since then, she has shifted her focus to educating school-age children and their teachers, developing the “Living Lab” project, and participating in the planning and development of a unique educational community garden at the Dorothy Johnson Center. Joyce's garden journaling workshops have reached hundreds of people and helped spread valuable gardening information throughout the region.
These four UC Master Gardeners, John Duran, Barry Hoffman, Hector Vera-Uribe, and Joyce Hill, exemplify the dedication and impact that passionate individuals can have on their communities. Through their tireless efforts, they have connected with and inspired countless people, enriching lives and creating lasting change. We applaud their outstanding contributions and look forward to witnessing the continued growth and success of the UC Master Gardener Program as a result of their work and work like it.
About National Volunteer Month and Gardeners with Heart
During National Volunteer Month (April 1 - 30), the UC Master Gardener Program celebrates its 6,300 incredible UC Master Gardener volunteers and their contributions to California communities. Throughout the National Volunteer Week, will feature stories of special volunteers or Gardeners with Heart from across the state who use their skills to improve program delivery. Gardener's with Heart volunteers were nominated by their local county leadership for the impact they make every day in their communities.