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Master Gardener Volunteer program members work on landscape demonstrations at the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County office. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County]

Sarasota County Extension thanks volunteers

UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County thanks all its volunteers for National Volunteer Month in April.

Sarasota County Extension volunteers are vital to achieving our mission of community outreach and education. Last year alone, 355 Extension volunteers gave 16,980 hours of service, worth $431,811 in labor, to the residents of Sarasota County.

And that comes despite the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with restrictions employed to help slow the disease’s spread and impact. Just like Extension staff, our volunteers quickly adapted to this changed culture, establishing virtual approaches to lead classes and conduct meetings.

The Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic, which assists residents with plant and landscape questions, has operated virtually since the beginning of the pandemic, helping hundreds of residents find information and solutions. The highly successful and informative Master Gardener Radio Hour has continued to provide informative over-the-air and online sessions, with a reach that extends well beyond Sarasota.

Master Gardener Volunteer program members work on landscape demonstrations at the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County office. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County]

Master Gardener Volunteer program members work on landscape demonstrations at the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County office. [CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County]

Master Gardener Volunteers have assisted staff conduct and monitor educational webinars. They’ve continued to conduct in-office soil analyses for interested residents. They’ve helped maintain gardens at several Sarasota County libraries and parks, supported staff in the office, provided landscaping expertise at our Twin Lakes Park office, and embarked on an exciting new educational outreach garden project at our facility. They’ve even started posting monthly to this blog, with topics to help residents learn about their lawns, landscapes and gardens.

Our 4-H program volunteers have provided support and guidance to our 4-H youth navigating through this difficult year, shifting to virtual meetings and project judging to continue delivering constructive feedback and suggestions. And, they helped 4-H youth and program staff prepare for and operate at the annual Sarasota County Agricultural Fair, a “circle the date” event—returning after a year’s hiatus—that offers youth the opportunity to showcase and enhance skills learned through the year.

And, our Sustainability Energy Upgrade program volunteers embraced a shift to virtual training this year without missing a beat. These volunteers work with lower-income residents in Sarasota County to identify and implement energy- and water-saving adaptations for their homes, and provide information and kits through events across the county.

We’ve highlighted some notable achievements, but know that volunteers support every program at Sarasota County Extension. Day in and day out, through thick and thin, they make our work possible.

Thank you, to all of our volunteers!