Master Gardener Volunteers honored

Tuesday, December 13th the Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) of Highlands County recognized some of their members for their hard work during 2022.  The Awards banquet took place in the back room of the Caddyshack Bar and Grill in Sebring. Twenty-five MGVs came to the event and enjoyed an evening of dinner and drinks. Bob and Terry Fromhartz were honored as Master Gardener Volunteers of the year. It was the first time that a couple was given the award.

Master Gardener Volunteers, Bob and Terry Fromharts are picturedw with Horticulutre agent David Austin
Bob and Terry Fromhartz accept their award for being Master Gardener Volunteers of the year in Highlands County from Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator David Austin. Photo by Colleen Rafferti

Bob and Terry are the type of volunteers that are always up for the challenge. Terry is usually right behind Bob and helps him with many tasks. This year Bob spearheaded a memorial garden in honor of Paul Walton at the Avon Park Christian Church. Paul was a Former Master Gardener Volunteer of the year that passed away recently.  Bob got the ball rolling, asking the MGVs to donate time and materials to complete the garden. With some help from church volunteers and a group of ten MGVs, the area was cleaned out of debris, plants installed and irrigation added. The church held a gathering on November 6th with Paul’s family to dedicate the garden.

Bob and Terry visited the office weekly to test soil pH samples among the many other jobs they took on. Bob was also instrumental in helping organize and operate mobile Master Gardener Volunteer help desks at festivals across the county. Bob could often be found behind the Agriculture center, cleaning up and putting together rain barrels or repairing plant benches. He is always ready to lend a hand and his and Terry’s dedication is what earned them MGV of the year honors.

During his spare time, Bob also volunteered at Highlands Hammock, helped edit a book on hiking the Appalachian trail, that he wrote with a friend, and could be found traversing the county delivering The Angler magazines for his friend and neighbor Don Norton. Bob is a busy man and we thank him and Terry for their hard work.

Other Master Gardener Volunteers were honored for the number of hours they volunteered and for serving on the Executive committee.  Two Master Gardeners stood out and were honored separately. Mary Meier was honored and given the presidential pen for her time as President in 2022. Mary volunteered over 600 hours and was the chair of the plant propagation committee. She could be located behind the Agricultural Center every Wednesday, working with the plants we grow for our garden festival.

Judi Bently was also honored. Judy had just shy of 6oo hours of volunteering this year. Along with serving as treasurer, Judi co-chaired the Garden Festival Committee and the Educational Committee. She searched the community for festival sponsors, organized vendors as well as operating the silent auction and raffles at the festival.

Judi Bentley and Mary Meire receive recognition for their work as Master Gardener Volunteers. photo by colleen Rafferti
Judi Bentley (left) and Mary Meier (right) receive recognition for their work as Master Gardener Volunteers. Photo by Colleen Rafferti

It’s hard to put into words the time and commitment these two ladies gave to the Highlands County Master Gardener Volunteer program this year and to our community at large.

During the festivities, we welcomed our new officers that will be taking over at the first of the year. Susie Whitehead will be president replacing Mary Meier who will move to the Past President position held by Sonja Tyus last year.  Linda Krou will be president-elect and move into the spot that Susie Whitehouse had held. Judi Bentley will remain treasurer while Margaret Sager will replace Charlene Vansant as Secretary. Charlene will become a member-at-large as will Sonja Tyus who is replacing Lorie Hunter in that position. The New Class member-at-large will be Michaele Bailey replacing Linda Krou.

The Highlands County Master Gardener Volunteers had a great year with over 5000 hours given to the community. Training will start soon for our 2023 class. For information on how to become a Master Gardener Volunteer, call the UF/IFAS Extension office at 863 402-6540 or email

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david austin
Posted: December 22, 2022

Category: Community Volunteers, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension,
Tags: Highlands County, Highlands Horticulture Digest, Hometown Gardener, Master Gardener Volunteers, UF/IFAS Extension

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