There are many areas throughout Auburn that are filled with lush landscaping. One organization is charged with keeping Auburn and its surrounding areas beautiful. They try to do all that while having fun and giving back to the community. They are best known as the Lee County Master Gardeners Association.
“Master Gardeners started in the early 1970s when interest in home gardening mushroomed and is now active in all 50 states,” said Nancy Golson, president of LCMG. “The Master Gardeners Program was created by state Cooperative Extension Systems to educate volunteers in gardening, landscapes and horticultural education. We support the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, maintain demonstration gardens, conduct community projects, present gardening-related programs and workshops.”
LCMG constructed, and continues to maintain, the community demonstration gardens at Kiesel Park in Auburn, the Butterfly Garden at Kreher Forest Preserve in Auburn, the Carolyn Dean Wildflower Trail in Opelika and Grandma’s Garden in Loachapoka.
The group demonstrates how teamwork and patience can make something worthwhile and beautiful, Golson said.
Being a member of this organization is no small feat, and there is a lot to consider if you want to volunteer with the LCMG. To be a member of the Master Gardeners, a 13-week training course must be completed, along with 50 hours of volunteer service, Golson said.
“LCMG has over 100 members, interns and friends," Golson said. "Members meet the first Wednesday of each month for a business meeting and educational program. We have mulch sales for the public and have a native azalea sale each spring."
There are multiple ways to be involved and help the organization without being a Master Gardener.
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"The public is invited to our educational programs and to become a Friend of Master Gardeners," Golson said. "A ‘friend’ is anyone who wishes to support our program, project and missions but does not have time to take the course. Friends pay a small yearly fee and are placed on our mailing list and can participate in all our activities."
The LCMG has several fundraisers and provide grants to schools and other organizations. One of the organization's concentrations is to continue to build the community.
“Our garden tour is our largest fundraiser, and, along with other fundraisers, we provide educational grants to support horticulture educational activities in our community," Golson said.
Golson said LCMG recently provided $1,000 grants to Opelika High School in support of their Ag Ed teaching program, O Grows, for their hydroponic drip system. Grants also went to Sunny Slope, the headquarters for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, towards restoration of its 1850’s landscaping and Harvest for Health where Master Gardener mentors used a backyard vegetable garden to teach a healthy hobby to cancer survivors.
LCMG also provides a $1,000 scholarship annually to a Lee County horticulture student, Golson said.
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