Growing Together: Orange Co Master Gardener Volunteer 2023 Highlights

UF/IFAS Extension owes much of its success in community outreach and horticulture education to the invaluable contributions of the Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) Program. From providing assistance in the Plant Clinic to conducting classes countywide, supporting our 4-H initiatives, and drawing crowds of over 2,300 at our annual Garden Festival & Plant Sale, our dedicated volunteers play a crucial role in executing the program’s vision as Florida’s most trusted resource for horticulture education. As we concluded 2023, we proudly counted 122 certified Florida Master Gardener Volunteers and welcomed 21 MGV trainees.

Highlights of Our Achievements in 2023:

1. Garden Festival & Plant Sale:

  • 3 volunteers standing in the mobile plant clinic trailer ready to answer guest questions Our Garden Festival & Plant Sale is our largest community outreach event that serves as our biggest fundraiser of the year. In 2023, we:
  • Welcomed 2,300 attendees
  • Conducted 5 educational sessions and 4 workshops, reaching 237 class attendees
  • Answered 50+ plant questions at the Mobile Plant Clinic and collected 22 soil samples for pH analysis
  • For details on our 2024 Garden Festival & Plant Sale, click here:

2. Speakers Bureau:

  • Our Speakers Bureau taught classes throughout the year at Orange County Library System branches, our Extension Office, various garden clubs, HOAs, and festivals
  • Delivered almost 100 classes, reaching 1,400+ residents
  • Interested in having a Master Gardener Volunteer speak at an event? Please email for scheduling.

3. 4-H/Youth Activities:

  • Engaged in 4-H Summer Camps, led 4-H Garden Club workshops, and taught Vegetable Gardening at 8 Head Start school sites

    Students learning about Botany and working on a pressed flower animal shaped art piece

  • Supported Orange County FFA activities
  • Taught 100+ youth-focused programs, impacting over 3,100 students

4. Residential Plant Clinic:

  • Our UF/IFAS Extension office (6021 S. Conway Rd.) serves as our primary Plant Clinic, open M-Th, 10-5 pm. Our second location is in Apopka at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research & Education Center with a Plant Clinic on Tuesdays from 9-12 pm, and then lastly we hold Pop-Up Plant Clinics at various libraries around the county each month. In 2023, we:
  • Provided 1,468 consultations, including phone calls, office visits, and emails
  • Conducted 2,028 diagnostics, covering pH tests, plant problems, disease diagnostics, plant ID, insect ID, and more
  • Needing advice or diagnostics with your garden or landscape? check out this blog for details on our various Plant Clinic options: 

5. Years of Service:

Master Gardener Volunteer standing with her 25 year engraved vase and a colorful bouquet of flowers

  • 2023 was a big year for many of our volunteers who hit their milestone years of service awards!
  • We recognized volunteers with milestone years of service awards, including four ten years, two 15 years, and one 25 years of service recipients

6. Volunteer Hours:

  • Ended the year with 21 trainees and 122 active volunteers contributing 8,300+ hours of volunteering
  • Additionally, they are life long learners who wracked up 1,500+ hours of continuing education!

Looking back at 2023, it’s clear that the Master Gardener Volunteer Program has thrived, and our impact has reached new heights, thanks to the remarkable dedication of our volunteers. Their hard work, whether assisting at the Plant Clinic, teaching in classrooms, or nurturing our youth programs, is the backbone of our success. We owe a special acknowledgment to our community, whose attendance at the Garden Festival & Plant Sale and generous support as donors/sponsors have been the catalysts for our far-reaching endeavors. The funds raised during this annual event are the lifeblood of our operations, enabling us to carry out our mission of being Florida’s most trusted resource for horticulture education. To our volunteers and community supporters, your collaborative efforts are the driving force behind our achievements. Heartfelt gratitude for making it all possible!

Curious about becoming an Orange County Master Gardener Volunteer? Check out this FAQ blog and stay tuned for 2024 recruitment announcements! 

Posted: February 2, 2024

Category: Community Volunteers, HOME LANDSCAPES, Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Extension
Tags: 4-H, Community Outreach, Garden, Garden Festival, Garden Festival And Plant Sale, Gardening, Gardening Workshops, Landscape, Master Gardener Volunteer, Master Gardener Volunteers, New Vegetable Gardener, OC MGV, Ocextension, Orange County, Orange County Garden, Orange County Gardening, Orange County Master Gardener Volunteers, Orange County Plant Clinic, Orlando Garden Festival, Orlando Gardening, Plant Clinic, Plant Sale, Plants, UF/IFAS Extension, UF/IFAS Extension Orange County, Volunteer Impact, VolunteerImpact, Volunteers

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