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Search for Excellence

Search for Excellence (SFE) is a statewide competition designed to recognize outstanding UC Master Gardener projects that support the mission of UC Master Gardener Program.

“To extend research-based knowledge and information on home horticulture, pest management, and sustainable landscape practices to the residents of California and be guided by our core values and
strategic initiatives."

- UC Master Gardener Program Mission Statement 

The SFE  competition is an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the tremendous talents of UC Master Gardeners from across the state. County programs are invited to submit an educational and innovative projects for consideration. 

Cash prizes will be awarded to the three highest scoring entries among seven categories:

  1. Community service
  2. Demonstration garden
  3. Innovative project
  4. Research (applied scientific methodology) 
  5. Special need audience
  6. Workshop or presentation
  7. Youth Program

Outreach and making an impact in local communities should be the focus of the entries, which will be judged by a team of gardening and horticultural experts. The winners will have the opportunity to present the projects at the Virtual 2020 UC Master Gardener Mini-Conference. 


2020 Winners

Congratulations! UC Master Gardener Programs in San Diego County, Contra Costa County, and Santa Clara County won the triennial Search for Excellence competition. In honor of their achievement, winning projects receive a cash prize to support local program delivery and the opportunity to present their projects during the 2020 virtual mini-conference.  To learn more about these exceptional projects watch their sessions below and read about them in the statewide blog.

1st - San Diego County: Reminiscence Gardening

2nd - Contra Costa County: Gardening with Underserved Communities 

3rd  - Santa Clara County: School Field Trip Program 


Prizes: 1st place $1500, 2nd place $1000, 3rd is $500

SFE Dates

SFE documents released October 23, 2019

Submissions accepted January 7 - April 28, 2020


Winners contacted August 25, 2020

Winners announced August 31, 2020

Virtual Mini Conference Conference September 29 - Oct. 1

Questions? Contact: 

Search for Excellence Chair
Email: mgsfe@ucanr.edu 
Include county name in subject line for all email communications
Email checked weekly

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