SEARCY — In addition to naming Anna Tallie the 2020 White County Master Gardener of the Year, the local organization recognized several other members.
The White County Master Gardeners program is under the auspices of the White County Cooperative Extension Service, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Sherri Sanders, White County Extension Service agent for agriculture, serves as adviser of the group. Ben Williams of Searcy serves as president of the White County Master Gardeners.
Recent awards include the following:
• 2020 Rookie of the Year – Jan Hill: Hill is a member of the 2020 Master Gardener Class.
Sanders said Hill volunteered hours above and beyond the required 40 hours. Her willingness to serve in various capacities and on multiple projects was also considered.”
“Jan has logged many more hours than required and served as a positive role model for others,” Sanders said.
• 2020 Friend of Master Gardener (business category) recipients — The North Central Men’s and McPherson Units, Arkansas Department of Corrections.
Sanders said the North Central Unit is in Calico Rock and can house a total of 800 male inmates. The McPherson Unit is in Jackson County near Newport and houses more than 800 female inmates in various stages of incarceration, from maximum- to medium-security custody. This facility is also responsible for the intake and classification of female offenders in Arkansas.
Sanders said Aaron Browning, a horticulture instructor at the North Central Unit, and Michael Harmon, horticulture instructor at the McPherson Unit, have been instrumental in allowing University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture agents and specialists to teach inmates a 40-hour horticulture training course.
“The intent of the training is to afford the graduates a means of employment in the lawn-care, greenhouse or nursery-management businesses, or at big-box stores, upon release from prison,” Sanders said. “From this partnership, both prisons provided their horticulture-program students with ‘hands-on learning opportunities’ while growing transplants and propagating plants that were sold as part of the White County Master Gardeners plant sale. The White County Master Gardeners purchased all supplies, and the inmates did the work. The plant sale generates funds for scholarships for White County students seeking a degree in agriculture.”
• 2020 White County Friend of Master Gardener (individual category) — Kaleb LaFon of Lonoke.
Kaleb, the 12-year-old son of Wes and Anna Maria LaFon, is home-schooled and enjoys volunteering.
Sanders said Kaleb began volunteering with the Master Gardeners with Bob Morrison and the Beebe Bunch at Daniel Park, then worked on the Bradford Walking Trail.
Kaleb plays baseball for local and traveling teams, pickleball and golf. He has entered plants in the local fair and has won several ribbons. He also enjoys cooking. His cookies won first-place at the Lonoke County Fair.
• Sunshine Awards:
Marilyn Sims, Margaret Chiariello, Diann Gray, Ben Williams, Glenda Moore, Judy Waters, Brenda Moody, Laurie Watson, Sandra Johnson, Ron Rupe, Laverne Parks, Mary Ellen Nutter and Kaye Finley.
“These individuals have a positive influence on others and a bubbly personality,” Sanders said. “They are a ray of sunshine and promote the Master Gardeners program to others throughout the state.”
For more information on the White County Master Gardeners program, call the White County Cooperative Extension Service Office at (501) 268-5394.