Thursday, February 5, 2015

Philadelphia Master Gardeners Warm-Up in a New Space to Celebrate Graduation!

~ Jessica S. Herwick
It was an unassuming, but legendary winter day for the Penn State Extension Philadelphia Master Gardeners. A few weeks ago, on January 10, 2015, active Master Gardener members, some having graduated more than 10 years ago, gathered just around the corner from Independence Hall at The Penn State Center on Sansom Street, to celebrate their newest members - the Graduating Class of 2014. Surrounded by fresh flowers, a buffet lunch, and of course, the famous blue & white Master Gardener pins engraved with the name of each proud graduate, the Philadelphia Extension Master Gardener Class of 2014 celebrated 38 trainees from 16 different zip codes from Philadelphia, Bucks and Delaware Counties who now proudly call themselves Master Gardeners. 
Trainees completed a rigorous course which included weekly classes and the completion of volunteer service hours in order to earn their certificate, pin and active member status in their respective counties. Anna Herman, Master Gardener Coordinator, spoke proudly of the graduates:
 “Many members of the class jumped right into active roles on committees and in leadership to the organization - from organizing and running the plant sale to taking on responsibilities for two new demonstration gardens – The Food Forest Orchard and the new Pollinator Demo Garden at Awbury Arboretum. One of our new graduates even co-taught one of our units for this year’s training (on Green Infrastructure).”

The next graduating class of Master Gardener trainees has already begun their studies and will be the first to
utilize the Penn State Center for classes and workshops. Until recently, the training classes were held at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. However, the Class of 2014 graduates earned some bragging rights as the first to hold their ceremony at The Penn State Center, a building that recently opened back in April, 2014 and still has that “new car smell”. It houses several offices, workspaces and meeting rooms (with a working kitchen!) for Penn State Extension Philadelphia educators, programs and volunteers, as well as the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture and Penn State Outreach.

The Philadelphia County MG Coordinator, Anna Herman, another rather newly-welcomed addition to
the Penn State Extension family, celebrated a few ‘firsts’ of her own. This graduating class was Anna’s first group of trainees, and her first graduation ceremony since taking on the coordinator position in 2013. She led the design and management of the evolving training program which includes Penn State core classes combined with additional coursework geared toward urban gardening initiatives such as “Strategies and Support for Gardening with Youth”, “Urban Vegetable Gardens 101”, and “Green Infrastructure”.

Anna orchestrated the graduation event along with Jackie Simon (4-H Youth Development) and a group of volunteers and steering committee members from previous classes of MG graduates. The ceremony followed coffee, tea and guest speaker, Rebecca Hayden Kennedy, the Region IV Project
Specialist for the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST), who discussed the growing Watershed Stewards Program. After graduates were made official, a short but sweet awards ceremony thanked those active Master Gardeners who went above and beyond to support the programming throughout the past year. Lively conversation ensued while seasoned Master Gardeners got to know their newest members and enjoyed the lunch and dessert buffet from Di Bruno Brothers. It was a heartwarming afternoon for such a chilly January day! 


Find more information about the Master Gardeners or how to become a Master Gardener here:

Find more images from the 2014 Philadelphia Extension Master Gardener Graduation Ceremony here: (under photos in graduation album on our Facebook page.)

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