Recognition Beyond Boundaries

UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County Master Gardener Volunteers were recognized for excellence during the 2021 International Master Gardener Conference, hosted by the Virginia Extension Master Gardener Program. The conference is attended by more than a thousand program volunteers from most of the 50 states, Canada, and South Korea.

The David Gibby International Search for Excellence Awards, named in honor of the founder of the first Master Gardener program, recognize exemplary group projects that show significant learning by the Master Gardeners or the public. The award-winning projects showcase the efforts and talents of Master Gardener volunteers, often providing economic, environmental, educational, and health impacts. These innovative projects frequently serve as models, influencing the development of Master Gardener-led programs throughout the world.

The awards are divided into seven categories: Community Service, Demonstration Gardens, Innovative Projects, Research (Applied Scientific Methodology), Special Needs Audiences (Senior, Disabled Audiences or Horticultural Therapy), Workshops or Presentations, and Youth Programs.

The Award Goes To

The UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County Master Gardener Volunteer in-person classes and workshops on vegetable gardening, backyard fruit trees and growing herbs have always been very popular with Manatee County residents. We did not want to give up these classes when the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person teaching impossible; in fact, the stresses of an uncertain future, concerns about food security, and social isolation and boredom associated with the pandemic made growing your own food more relevant than ever.

Three three-part webinars were developed by MG Volunteers targeting Central Florida residents interested in growing vegetables, fruit trees and herbs. Each webinar was approximately one hour long and was webcast via ZOOM to a live, pre-registered audience and via recorded and live links on ZOOM, Facebook and YouTube. Our goals were to educate and change horticultural behaviors for a rewarding, more Florida-friendly approach to gardening which includes appropriate and efficient use of fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation and recycling materials such as composting.


Switching from in-person teaching to online webinars opened new and different opportunities for us in terms of our educational mission. These webinars cumulatively reached over 800 attendees during the live presentation and hundreds more who viewed the recorded presentations on our Youtube channel.

The Webinars

The “Backyard Fruit Tree” series (selection, planting and care)

The “Herbs” series (selection, maintenance and harvesting)

The “Vegetable Gardening” series (preparing, planting, care and scouting for pests and disease.)

How to Find Us:

UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County Office
1303 17th Street West, Palmetto FL
(941) 722-4524

Have a plant question?

Visit us in person at our Plant Clinic, open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am – 4pm! You can also call us at (941) 722-4524 ext. 0000 or email your questions to

Need help outside of office hours? Submit an inquiry form here and one of our Master Gardener Volunteers will help solve your problem when they return to the clinic.

Upcoming Classes:

09/07/21 Organic Gardening – Getting Started: Focusing on vegetable gardening, this series kicks off with a look at organic methods and materials, soil building, fertilizing, and sourcing plants and seeds. Register here.

09/13/21 Organic Gardening – Pest and Disease Management: Keep on top of insects, diseases, and weeds using scouting, Integrated Pest Management, and environmentally-friendly products. Register here.

09/20/21 Organic Gardening – Veggies/Herbs for Health: Organic produce contains important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Learn the benefits of incorporating vegetables and herbs into your diet for a healthy lifestyle. Register here.

09/28/21 Compost Happens – Home Composting: Home composting is an easy step anyone can make toward sustainability! Learn the environmental importance of composting, and how to turn your kitchen scraps and yard waste into useful soil amendments, helping to divert compostable materials out of landfills by setting up your own home compost bin. Compost bins will be available for sale on Eventbrite prior to the class. Printed Eventbrite receipt must be presented and sale confirmed in order to pick up your pre-purchased bins after the presentation. Register here.


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Posted: September 3, 2021

Category: Community Volunteers, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: Award, Featured Hot Topic, International Award, Master Gardener Volunteers

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