Good job Polk County Residents! An Earth Day Message of Hope

Earth Day is always a great time to focus on Florida’s environmental health. It can be discouraging to read about declining water quality, disappearing natural habitat and other problems facing our irreplaceable natural resources. Ready to hear some good news? UF/IFAS Extension Polk County’s Horticulture Program compiled statistics for the past year, 2018, based on outreach activities of your Polk County Master Gardener volunteers. Read on to learn ways in which YOU – our Polk County residents — have impacted our environment in a positive way.

* In 2018, a total of 12,500 Polk residents attended 194 Master Gardener-led workshops, public events and site consultations. Topics for many of these programs included ways to learn more about earth-friendly and sustainable lifestyle practices.
* Residents saved 13,498,233 gallons of water as a result of attending educational workshops and classes. Much of this programming focused on teaching ways to reduce irrigation for landscapes.
* Polk County residents saved $138,000, based on 925 free Master Gardener Plant Clinic consultations. Master Gardener volunteers in our Plant Clinic provide a free service answering residents’ questions and identifying horticultural problems by telephone, email, and in-office visits to the Polk County Extension Office in Bartow.
* Master Gardener volunteers reached 5,800 Polk County youth, who learned about earth-friendly horticultural topics. Some of these programs include Polk County’s annual award-winning youth activity, Agrifest, in which most 4th-grade students in the county attend an intensive morning-long horticultural learning experience. Agrifest topics support requirements by the Florida Public School System. Other youth activities included “Dirt Days”, a cooperative program with Polk County Natural Resources and Friends of the Park. Dirt Days are held at Circle B Bar Reserve. In addition, Master Gardener volunteers worked with many Polk County Schools, conducting in-school education on STEM topics, supplementing classroom curriculum.
* In 2018, Polk County residents attended programs learning about Florida-Friendly Landscaping™. These activities were supported by $24,000 that was raised by Polk County Master Gardener volunteers for this purpose. The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program is a guide to sustainable landscaping practices, with nine easy-to-use principles. The practice of these nine landscaping principles help the environment by reducing the use of irrigation, and lessening the damage in our communities from improperly used fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals.
* In 2018, 92 trained Master Gardener volunteers in Polk County contributed volunteer hours, equivalent to 8 full-time employees and generating a value of $350,000. To serve Polk County residents, they contributed a value of $38,000 in mileage donations.

These statistics show that residents CAN make important contributions to help our environment! For more information contact your Polk County Extension Office, and Polk County Master Gardeners., 863-519-1041, 1702 Highway 17 South, Bartow, FL 33880.

Happy Gardening and Happy Earth Day, 2019!


This blog post was written by Master Gardener Molly Griner under supervision of the Master Gardener Coordinator and Residential Horticulture Agent Anne Yasalonis.

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Visit us in person, give us a call, or email us at

The Florida Master Gardener Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida. The program extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.

An Equal Opportunity Institution.


Posted: April 22, 2019

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes,
Tags: Anne Yasalonis, Ayasalonis, Earth Day, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Master Gardener, Master Gardener Volunteer, Polk County, Polkgardening, Polkmg

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