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Master Gardeners celebrate 20th Anniversary with “Garden Gala”

Posted 2/13/2012

In 1992, a seed was planted with the hopes of creating a community volunteer gardening program. Twenty years later, the Southern Nevada Master Gardener program is in full bloom. To mark the anniversary, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners are hosting a number of celebratory events. The first, a Garden Gala on Saturday, April 21, is free and open to all gardening enthusiasts. Master Gardeners — past and present — plus interested community members are invited to become a part of this wonderful celebration!

The Garden Gala will be held at the Lifelong Learning Center and Outdoor Education Center located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Cooperative Extension’s demonstration and teaching gardens will be open. Garden tours and talks will be offered every half hour from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. Throughout the day there will be a native plant sale, an “Ask a Master Gardener” information booth and community project displays. Horticulture expert Linn Mills, who started the local Master Gardener program, will be honored, as will Master Gardener Mary Rider, from the first training class. Cutting of the anniversary cake and a reunion of current and former Master Gardeners will commemorate the day.

Over the years, over 1,000 individuals have become certified Master Gardeners and 300 are still actively sharing their knowledge in the community. In contrast to purely vocational training, Master Gardeners are required to share their gardening knowledge with others. Master Gardeners make a commitment to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours annually on community service projects. Since the local program began in 1992, UNCE Master Gardeners of Southern Nevada have contributed over 273,827 volunteer hours. The cash value is $5,709,293 (based on 2009-2010 volunteer valuation of $20.85/hour).

Volunteer Master Gardeners assist government and non-profit community partners on over 20 project sites across the valley and staff the Help Desk at the Lifelong Learning Center, Monday — Friday from 8am to 5pm for community members to bring in their gardening queries.

For information on the Garden Gala 20th Anniversary community open house or the Master Gardener program, email Antoinette Edmunds, program coordinator or call 702-257-5587.

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