Wake County resident receives the 2012 NC State-wide Outstanding Extension Master Gardener Award

Dr. Marilyn Grolitzer, Extension Master Gardener of Wake County, NC, was named one of the two state-wide winners of the Outstanding Volunteer Award at the NC State Master Gardener's Conference 2012. Grolitzer was recognized for her leadership of the Wake County Extension Master Gardener organization during the recent budget crisis.

September 19, 2012 (FPRC) --

Dr. Marilyn Grolitzer, Extension Master Gardener of Wake County, was named one of the two state-wide winners of the Outstanding Volunteer Award at the NC State Master Gardener's Conference 2012. Grolitzer was recognized for her leadership of the Wake County Extension Master Gardener organization during the recent budget crisis.

The awards were established to recognize those exemplary volunteers who have shown extraordinary involvement in support of Extension Master Gardeners and Cooperative Extension. They are made based on nominations received by individual county programs and recommendations by the NC Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association's Awards Committee. There are over 4000 Extension Master Gardener Volunteers in NC.

Grolitzer was nominated for her leadership of the Wake Extension Master Gardener program of over 150 volunteers. During the recent budget crisis, severe cuts to the county budget were proposed which would have resulted in the elimination of the Master Gardener program in Wake County. Grolitzer led the campaign to save the program and to restore funding for the county's horticultural agent position. "Marilyn possessed the wisdom to gather supporting data on economic and programmatic terms that proved to the County Commissioners that the Extension Master Gardener program and the Cooperative Extension Service in general were worth saving." said Brent Henry, Director of Wake County Cooperative Extension. She led letter writing, phone call, and media campaigns to engage the public in clearly demonstrating the value of the program which donates over $200,000 in services for an investment of $22,000 by Wake County.

At the Wake County Budget Hearing meeting, Grolitzer mobilized the master gardeners who showed up wearing NCSU red. Over 80 residents and volunteers testified to the value of the program and a petition with more than 1,300 signatures was presented. Last year these highly technically trained volunteers increased their public outreach by 55%, donated 10,000 hours of service and assisted 20,000 Wake County residents on urban gardening and environmental stewardship.

Grolitzer was first certified as an Extension Master Gardener in 2006. She is the Immediate Past Chair of the Wake County Extension Master Gardeners, an Associate Board Member and Water Quality Technical Advisor for the Wake County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), and an Advisory Board Member for the Friends of the Wake SWCD. Grolitzer has a doctorate in organic chemistry from Brandeis University and pursued a career leading large organizations of research scientists on the development and commercialization of new products.

While Grolitzer's efforts have been critical in Wake County, her work has become a blueprint for other counties facing similar budget challenges. The program has since taken unprecedented steps to continue and grow her initial effort to bring greater visibility to the value and benefit the Extension Master Gardener program brings to Wake county.

Extension Master Gardeners serve as a valuable resource in helping citizens by providing information on how to maintain lawns and gardens. Master Gardeners are part of the volunteer staff of NC State University's Cooperative Extension Service. They provide unbiased, research based educational assistance and programs in horticulture and environmental issues to the gardening public. A Master Gardener is available to answer questions on home gardening, household pests and horticulture. Monday – Friday 9:00am-12:00pm and 1:00pm-4:00pm (919) 250-1084; mgardener@wakegov.com

For more information contact Jeana Myers of Wake County Extension Master Gardeners  (http://wakemg.org)
9192501113

Keywords: master gardener award 2012, wake county, volunteer

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