SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- Two years after Ohio State University Extension's statewide Master Gardener coordinator position was dissolved due to lack of funds, it's now been given new life.
Pam Bennett, an OSU Extension Educator and horticulture director for Clark County, has been appointed the new statewide Master Gardener Volunteer coordinator. The part-time position will be effective for one year and then re-evaluated for potential continuation.
"I'm really excited about it. I'm going to have a lot of fun working with the Master Gardeners," said Bennett. "They are amazing people and the diversity, gardening background, horticulture ideas and experience they bring to the table is unmatched."
Said Steve Baertsche, assistant director of Ohio State University Extension, "The Ag and Natural Resources program area is very pleased that Pam has accepted the leadership and coordinator opportunities for this important conumer horticulture program. We know she'll do an outsanding job taking our Master Gardener program to a new level."
Bennett holds a Bachelor of Science degree in horticulture and a master's degree in Human and Community Resource Development from Ohio State's College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. She has 11 years of industry experience in horticulture and has worked at OSU Extension's Clark County office since 1992, starting out as a program assistant. She applauds the college's commitment to its Master Gardener programs and its desire to revitalize a position deemed important to the growth of horticulture and crop science throughout the state.
"After the position was dissolved, a group of Master Gardener state specialists, educators and program coordinators came together and formed a committee to try to keep Master Gardener programs at both the county and state levels viable. And we were treading water to keep the program afloat," said Bennett. "We really appreciate administration's efforts in showing their support for our programs and the willingness to commit the dollars to it."
The Ohio Master Gardener Volunteer coordinator oversees nearly 3,000 Master Gardeners in more than 60 counties, and the various horticulture programs targeted to the public, such as plant clinics, gardening demonstrations and classes, community gardens, hotlines, and demonstration gardens.
As Master Gardener coordinator, Bennett plans to increase the visibility of statewide programs, strengthen volunteer training, improve the Master Gardener Web site, increase fundraising programs, and expand the Master Gardener manual.
"It can be overwhelming, deciding what needs to be done as opposed to what can be done. We haven't even begun tapping into the resources of these programs yet," said Bennett. "But we've got a great group of strong, passionate people and we'll do nothing but move forward from this point on."