- Author: Sheila Clyatt
In fact, it is the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference, in Long Beach, and we have descended on a very "posh" hotel with our sneakers, jeans and short practical fingernails. We stand out so much that it is almost humorous. We are a jovial crowd, relaxed and invigorated by the audible buzz of information and humor relayed at every gathering.
Some of the returnees appear to take everything in stride but I am so excited about this event that I push all fear aside and talk to every UC Master Gardener volunteer I meet. I am relieved to establish that UC Master Gardeners are totally approachable, love to share information and some can talk longer on the subject of compost then I can. That is quite an accomplishment.
What is so awesome about this event, is that when entomology is discussed instead of glazed over eyes, my fellow attendees become hypervigilant to the subject and even interject with commentary. These are my people!
I had wanted to attend UC Master Gardener conferences in the past, including the 2014 event in Yosemite. But each year after filling out the application, adding the cost of hotel and transportation I'd determine it's not within my budget. This year with the help of the funds raised by the previous silent auction made available to all UC Master Gardeners volunteers, combined with the cheap airfare on JetBlue I was able to attend.
Witnessing what other UC Master Gardeners were doing in their counties was both inspiring and reassuring. We might not be geographically close - but our goals, efforts and intentions were all in alliance. This comradery of meaningful contribution buffered both my stamina in the program and my commitment to its goals.
I hope that I might be fortunate enough to attend another UC Master Gardener conference in the coming years, and if so, I hope to see you there!
- Author: Melissa G. Womack
The Hyatt Regency was buzzing with activity as UC Master Gardener volunteers learned about the latest research in home horticulture at the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference in Long Beach. New session topics, hands-on workshops and speakers were tailored to ensure the conference met attendees' continuing education and learning needs. The social media photo wall, book signing and conference commemorative pin provided a fun setting for participants to mingle and make memories to take home.
“[The 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference] far exceeded anything I expected. It was amazing, I learned so much, and I feel a part of a bigger community now. I had no idea UC Master Gardeners were such a friendly, happy, fun and wonderful group of people. It really inspires me to stay in the program,” said one conference goer.
Welcome & keynotes
To kick-off the conference attendees were welcomed to Southern California by Keith Nathaniel, UC Cooperative Extension Director in Los Angeles County and Darren Haver, UC Cooperative Extension and REC Director in Orange County. “Southern California has so much to showcase for gardeners. We have undeniably beautiful landscapes in addition to serious environmental challenges,” said Haver. “The conference promotes citizen science in a way that makes me proud to be part of UC where I know my research reaches the people who will use it to make a difference.”
Following the warm welcome from the hosting counties, statewide director, Missy Gable applauded the program and its volunteer's accomplishments. Gable then invited participants to take the opportunity to network and build relationships across the state.
"The UC Master Gardener Program is an incredible network of volunteers, coordinators, advisors and experts from across California,” said Gable. "We were extremely excited to be able to learn together and most importantly celebrate the incredible impacts and accomplishments of our volunteers."
Two keynote speakers, Adam Schwerner, Director of Horticulture and Resort Enhancement at Disneyland Resort and Dr. Allen Armitage, Author, Lecturer and emeritus professor at the University of Georgia kept the audience inspired. Each speaker offered unique and different perspectives on gardening in public spaces and home horticulture. Schwerner encouraged each attendee to not be afraid of taking risks in the garden, and to develop a personal artistic flair that speaks to them through experimentation and most importantly having fun. Armitage shared his passion of home horticulture, offering a glimpse intro the historical foundation for various plants as well as sharing stories as sharing stories and light-hearted lessons from the field.
Sessions, sessions and more sessions!
With 58 break-out sessions and two keynote speakers there was a wealth of knowledge and experience available to all who attended the triennial conference. New this year was the option for attendees to register for special intensive sessions that offered unique or more in-depth trainings. Popular intensive sessions included, illustrated garden journaling, plant diagnostics, and Kirk Brown as John Bartram “America's 1st Master Gardener.”
Awards banquet and silent auction
Following an afternoon of inspiring guest and keynote speakers, attendees were invited to join together in the grand ballroom of the Long Beach Convention Center for the awards banquet and silent auction. Guests at the awards banquet were able to view and bid on beautiful baskets of local goods and handmade items, generously donated by local county programs and program supporters.
A special recognition and sincere thank you to the UC Master Gardeners of Ventura County for organizing and soliciting silent auction items. The silent auction was a huge success raising $7,910! All of the money raised is used to provide scholarships to UC Master Gardeners with a financial need at future conferences.
Celebrating the magic of volunteers
During the awards banquet volunteers who donated more than 5,000 volunteer hours were recognized and celebrated for their outstanding contributions to the University of California, our communities and our environment.
The magic of volunteers continued to be celebrated at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Volunteers with more than 5,000 volunteer hours were invited to an exclusive behind-the-scenes horticulture tour at Disneyland Resort, before the park opened to the public. The tour at Disneyland Resort was a rich experience full of industry insight into design, installation and maintenance, as well as what it takes to create the perfect seasonal landscape.
Join us in thanking and honoring volunteers in your county who reached new hour milestones since the 2014 conference:
Search for Excellence & photo contest winners
The top three winners for the Search for Excellence awards: Los Angeles, Orange and Marin counties were congratulated and presented their award certificates. Rachel Surls, advisor in UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County, gave an inspiring presentation about first-place winner – Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative. The Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative was developed in response to the need for a curriculum for beginning vegetable gardeners in Los Angeles County.
The conference also had a photo gallery where attendees could view and vote on their favorite photo contest finalist. The last day of the conference started with a “hurray” and lots of “awwws” during the announcement of the 2017 UC Master Gardener Photo Contest's Gardeners Choice award which went to Tom Fernanz, Calaveras-Tuolumne Counties, for his adorable photo titled, “Lily and the Swallowtail.”
We hope you join us in 2020!
Many thanks to the numerous volunteer, host counties and conference planning committee members who made the 2017 conference a reality. Without their dedication and support the conference would not have been possible. We look forward to continuing the celebration of the program and the magic of its volunteers at the 2020 UC Master Gardener Conference in Northern California.
Do you have a suggestion for the next conference or feedback for this year's event? Let us know at ucanr.edu/mgfeedback.
- Author: Lauren Snowden
Following a program wide call for photos, and two rounds of voting the official UC Master Gardener Photo Contest winners have been determined. We are very appreciative of the amount of support and participation from our UC Master Gardener volunteers and the public for casting their vote. Thanks to over 907 votes we now have our first, second and third place winners in each category. This contest was a huge success and we're proud of each and every volunteer who entered their images.
The winners are!
California Friendly Gardening:
Creatures in the Garden:
1st- “Lily and the Swallowtail,” by Tom Furnanz, Calaveras County
2nd- “Female Native Longhorn Bee,” by Kimberly Steinmann, Sacramento County
3rd- “Ingurgitating Praying Mantid,” by Sharon Leos, Solano County
UC Master Gardeners in Action:
First, second and third place winners will receive a certificate, professional print of their winning shot and will be featured on the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference website, as well as displayed in a photo gallery at the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference in Long Beach, Aug. 22-25.
Gardeners Choice: Be sure to vote at the Conference
The first place winner of each category is now entered to win the Gardeners Choice contest, to be voted on at 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference in Long Beach, Aug. 22-25. The winner will be announced on Aug. 25 and awarded a $75.00 gift card and certificate.
Congratulations to all
Thank you and congratulations to all the UC Master Gardner volunteers for participating. All of the submissions to the official 2017 UC Master Gardener photo contest on our contest website for viewing. Thank you to all those who took the time to participate and share your amazing work and congratulations to our winners. We had so much fun seeing all of your creative shots.
- Author: Marcy Sousa
Following a program wide call for photos, the official 2017 UC Master Gardener photo contest received more than 350 submissions from UC Master Gardeners across that state! Images ranged from beautiful flowers to fascinating creatures in our gardens in five categories.
Narrowing down each category's top five finalist was no easy task. Each categories finalists stood out to the judges because of its interesting subject matter, composition or connection to the program.
Photo finalists selected, now you vote!
Cast your vote by ranking the finalists in order from 1-5 (1 being your favorite). Online voting will close on July 31, 2017. Now it's your turn to help decided the winners! (Finalists listed in no particular order.)
California Friendly Gardening:
- "San Juan Capistrano Native Garden,” by Nina Payne, Ostensen Orange County
- “Drought Friendly Succulents,” by Monique Moench, Solano County
- “Quarry Lakes Demonstration Garden,” by Carol Jesse, Alameda County
- “CA Native Plants,” by Corinne Yoshihara, Napa County
- “Gardens Gone Native,” by Kathy Ikeda, San Joaquin County
Creatures in the Garden:
- “Lily and the Swallowtail,” by Tom Furnanz, Calaveras County
- “Ingurgitating Praying Mantid,” by Sharon Leos, Solano County
- “Female Native Longhorn Bee,” by Kimberly Steinmann, Sacramento County
- “Sharp-shinned Hawk Welcoming Visitors,” by Ken Martin, Ventura County
- “Last Meal of the Condemned,” by Bruce Goren, San Mateo-San Francisco Counties
- “Ravishing Radishes,” by Anne McDermott, Orange County
- “Beta vulgaris ‘Incognito',” by Kathy Ikeda, San Joaquin County
- “Winter Veggies,” by Randall Fox, Santa Cruz-Monterey Counties
- “Summer's Bounty,” by Rebecca Schoenenberger, Santa Clara County
- “Golden Raspberries,” by Bruce Goren, San Mateo-San Francisco Counties
UC Master Gardeners in Action:
- “Happy to Help,” by Amina Horikoshi, Sacramento County
- “Water Audit,” by Kathy Ikeda, San Joaquin County
- “Learning about Critters in a Pond,” by Peggy Chipkin Marin County
- “Fresh peas taste great!” by Summer Brasuel, El Dorado County
- “Which one is next?” by Kim Nguyen, Orange County
- “Looking Up,” by Carol Jesse, Alameda County
- “Exploding Milkweed,” by Cindy Elkins, Fresno County
- “Echeveria,” by Jeffrey Blake, San Mateo-San Francisco Counties
- “The splendor of a brilliant carnivorous plant,” by Marta Kravech, Sacramento County
- “Good Morning,” by Meredith French, Gold Badge, San Diego County
Click here to vote: ucanr.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bBoOSl4HlGfrpQ1
View all the photos entries
There is no doubt that UC Master Gardner volunteers have a creative side; be sure to check out all the submissions to official UC Master Gardener photo contest on the contest website. Thank you to all those who took the time to participate and share your amazing and inspiring work! Good luck to our finalists!
- Author: Leah Haynes
The UC Master Gardener Program conference planning committee is looking for generous people, businesses and UC Master Gardener counties to help make the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference silent auction a huge success. The committee is seeking high quality silent auction donations the awards banquet happening at the Long Beach Convention Center on Weds. Aug. 23.
The potential 900 conference attendees will have the opportunity to browse and bid on donated baskets and items throughout the evening. Bidders can bid freely knowing their money will be used to offset future conference costs and provide conference scholarships opportunities for UC Master Gardener volunteers.
Themed baskets, local goods, gift cards and handmade items that were donated for the 2014 conference raised $6,400 and provide both full and partial registration scholarships to the 2017 conference.
Donating items is easy
Volunteers can work with their local program coordinator and fellow volunteers to designate a lead responsible for all future silent auction correspondence and complete the Silent Auction Participation Form. Please complete the survey no later than Monday, Aug. 7 to secure a spot for your donated items. Visit the conference website to learn more details about the silent auction and how to package silent auction donation baskets.
If you are a business and would like to donate items for the silent auction please contact Ann Daniel, statewide fundraising coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org or (530)750-1387. We are happy to accept gift certificates, event and/or season tickets, travel vouchers, gardening tools, gloves, hats, gardening accessories, books, photography equipment, close-focus binoculars, pocket microscope, etc.
All individuals, businesses and organizations will be recognized for their donations at the silent auction on table signage and bid sheets for their support of the program.
Help support a program you love!
Leah Haynes, Program Coordinator in Ventura County and silent auction chair is excited to be a part of the 2017 conference committee and is looking forward to the conference. Haynes is particularly excited about providing an opportunity to UC Master Gardener volunteers to bid on items and support a program they love while creating future learning opportunities and scholarship funds.
“What an excellent opportunity to create a basket that showcases your county's agricultural profile,” says Haynes, “think big and beyond the basket. Let me know if you need my help in creating a theme for your county's basket. I truly appreciate your support for the work we DO!”
(Please include county name and Silent Auction in subject line for all email communications)
County programs contact:
Program Coordinator, Ventura County
Businesses, organizations or individuals contact:
Statewide Fundraising Coordinator
- Are you an artist with a unique masterpiece that reflects the beauty of your county?
- Do you have a family member, friend or neighbor that creates gifts for the garden?
- Did you purchase too many garden tools that you will never use?
- Do you have a vacation home a fellow UC Master Gardener could enjoy?
- Did you receive a gift card or two that you will never use?
- Do you make beautiful birdhouses or decorative items to adorn the garden?
Many Hands Make Light the Work!
Register to donate a silent auction item:
Learn more about the conference: