A Special Thank You to Our Volunteers

— Written By and last updated by Emily Capps
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I truly believe Henderson County has the best Extension staff in North Carolina. However, we would not be nearly as effective if it were not for the volunteers that support us at every turn. Our efforts are multiplied many times over by the people that come in day after day and freely give their time to further our Extension efforts.

Not in any particular order, but let’s just look at those that so graciously volunteer for Extension duties. Our Extension Master Gardener Volunteers staff our Master Gardener clinic several hours a week to answer questions and diagnose problems for homeowners. They answer our phones when we are busy with events. They make Bullington Gardens a beautiful botanical sanctuary and help grow plants and conduct events that support that facility. Two of them dedicate hour upon hour and make our landscape the envy of every Extension office in the state. Some help run our Bountiful Harvest Community Gardens which more than 30 people use throughout the growing season.

The Master Gardeners have numerous other projects around the county and events they help support. Some of these include the Flat Rock Pollinator Garden, The Flat Rock Playhouse Landscape Garden, 4-H Mini Gardens for Kid. Individual Master Gardeners do several other projects around the county as well. They also staff booths at Farm City Day, Garden Jubilee, Apple Festival and several Tailgate Markets.

What about our 4-H programs. Volunteers are the backbone of that program. With 10 active 4-H Clubs, none of these efforts would be possible without the club leaders and volunteers that put in so much time to show our youth skills for life and let them know that they care for them. Students in our 4-H sewing and cooking classes get individualized attention because of dedicated ladies that come and share their talents with them.

Volunteers also help with the 4H Village at Farm City Day, the Apple Festival Parade Float, the Hope Academy Special Olympics, at County and District Activity Days. Many coach very successful teams and individuals such as the many youth who win awards giving presentations. Those who coach them to give such great presentations deserve a lot of credit. Also, our shooting sports coaches always have our youth in winning form.

A lot of people don’t know we also have Master Pomologists that are trained in tree fruit production. They help manage the apple variety block in Edneyville where there are 147 different apple varieties and over 400 trees to help prune, train, evaluate and harvest each year. This effort provides information to our commercial growers in the county which they can use on their farms. They also help with the booth at the Apple Festival and make it possible for anyone who wants to taste different varieties of Henderson County Apples.

Our Extension Advisory Council is made up of individuals from all areas which Extension serves. They come to meetings every other month but do so much in between to provide support, direction and encouragement to Extension. They help with many of our events throughout the year and dedicate their own time as well as many resources to make them successful.

We recently started Extension Master Food Volunteers and they have already had an impact. They have helped with cooking demonstrations at the tailgate markets and will soon be helping with many other events that Family & Consumer Sciences sponsors.

And then there are those that just come and give their time because they are interested in a particular area or have a heart for youth, agriculture and many other interests. We have folks turn out to help with our 8th-grade school field trip. Farm City Day is our largest event and there will be droves of volunteers participating in that. They help with the Apple Festival, Garden Jubilee, tours and field days.

Last year alone, volunteers contributed over 27,000 hours to Extension at a value of almost $700,00.00. That’s making our Extension dollars stretch much further. A heartfelt thanks to each and every one that volunteers to make our Extension programs better and stronger.

There are still plenty of volunteer opportunities at Cooperative Extension. If you would like to join this great group call us at 828-697-4891.