The El Paso County Master Gardeners Association gives special recognition several times a year to one Certified Master Gardener with the “Master Gardener of the Quarter” award. The person is honored for doing an exceptional job within their committee or for assisting the committee with its goals in an exceptional manner. The program was started in late 2015. Below are the quarterly winners and descriptions of their contributions.
Richard Overley – 3rd Quarter 2017
No matter how early one might arrive to volunteer at the Ascarate Demonstration and Teaching Garden, it’s a certainty that this Master Gardener will already be there, having unlocked the gate and be making the coffee. What’s more, on his trip to the garden he’s most likely stopped at Starbucks’ for a big bag of coffee grounds to add to the compost pile, along with a tub or two of grass clippings or leaves. When the garden needs a load or two of compost, lumber, wire for tomato cages, some extra topsoil, or whatever, he’s always Johnny-on-the-spot, pressing his trusty Tacoma into service for all manner of hauling and delivery jobs.
Whether it’s in amending the beds for new planting, putting in new plants or seeds, weeding, mowing the grass, harvesting, weighing and recording the harvest or cleaning it all up afterward, this Master Gardener leads by example. He keeps the garden’s irrigation system in tip top shape at all times, which is not an easy task! He is the point of contact with the county’s maintenance personnel so the trash gets picked up on a semi-regular basis, as well as all the other little matters he can cajole the county folks to perform for the benefit of the garden. He weighs and records all harvested items with the precision of a crime lab chemist who feels that he may later be called to testify in court about those exacting measurements. Some who work with him see this extreme attention to detail as possible sign of obsessive compulsive disorder, which he denies over and over and over and over!
Whenever harvested items need to be delivered to the food bank, the Rescue Mission or the Mustard Seed Café, he is almost always the delivery man. He puts his engineering background and experience to use in many ways to make things better and easier for all who work at the garden. All that and he’s almost always the last to leave and lock the gate. Richard Overley, Master Gardener of the Quarter, you will be missed as a co-chair of Ascarate Garden, but we hope you will continue come out and dig in the dirt with us. But please, let someone else make the coffee! Submitted by: Al Weisenberger, Ascarate Demonstration and Teaching Garden Committee.
Rex Morris – 2nd Quarter 2017
The awardee, Rex Morris, was nominated by two Master Gardener committees this quarter which is a special and noteworthy honor.
Nomination by AgriLife Garden Committee:
There has been a Superman sighting at the AgriLife Research Vegetable Garden. Though he doesn’t wear a cape or have a red “S” on his garden T-shirt, Rex Morris is our own garden Superman. He doesn’t fly, but he manages to accomplish any and all tasks at the garden. Whether it’s creating or repairing an irrigation system, working the compost bin and explaining what is going on inside of it, rototilling, planting and harvesting veggies, pulling weeds, or loading his truck for vegetable transport to Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market every week, Rex is always front and center. Unless he is out of town, you can always count on him being at the Research Garden every Tuesday and Friday. He also makes the best peanut butter fudge ever!! Rex is versed in many areas of gardening beyond the vegetable garden. He is a whiz when it comes to cacti and native plants and with his wife, Virginia, he was instrumental in constructing the Xeriscape garden on the south side of the Research Center. Home Shows would never happen without his help and experience. He is totally reliable and his cheerful attitude is contagious when working with him. Rex is a very humble man and not one to seek the limelight, but it is important that we stress that he has been invaluable to the Association since becoming a Master Gardener in 2006. He is truly a Master Gardener Superman and totally deserving of being honored as our Master Gardener of the Quarter!! Submitted by: Jan Petrzelka, AgriLife Garden Committee.
Nomination by Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market Committee:
Rex is truly one of a kind and we are so fortunate to have him as part of the Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market team! His unselfish gift of time, talent and knowledge has no match. Rex has faithfully, and without complaint, transported veggies from the garden, stored them in his home and delivered them to the market almost every week. He always stays and assists with booth set-up and puts his creative mind to work making modifications that improve how we function in the booth and how we reach out to the public. No task is too big or too small for Rex. But his commitment does not end with setting up the booth. He usually remains with the crew through both shifts and boy, are we glad he does. He is great at answering those tricky questions and giving folks all the details to make sure they understand and can tackle whatever their gardening concerns may be. And yet he keeps on ticking to the end when he leads the team to pack the booth up and store it for another week. It’s the end of the shift for most of us, but not for Rex. He loads the veggie boxes back into his car and returns them to the garden to begin the process anew the following week. If all that was not enough, Rex also co-chairs the August educational committee and will be the presenter for our end-of-the-month educational offering. He does all of this with a smile on his face and a kind word to everyone. Rex is a special guy and a Master Gardener extraordinaire. We are proud to honor him as the Master Gardener of the Quarter. Submitted by Penny Leslie and Patsy Sanders, Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market Committee Co-chairpersons.
Rosie Cubillos – 1st Quarter 2017
Rosie Cubillos joined the committee nearly two years ago and since then has been an avid contributor to our page. Thanks to Rosie’s creativity, there have been a variety of engaging posts which have generated a lot of interest from our viewers. She has taken over when others were ill or unable to participate and has been an inspiration to the team.
Being an active member of the committee entails almost daily logging on to Facebook, checking messages and questions from our viewers, finding appropriate educational information for posting and promoting El Paso Master Gardener (EPMG) activities. Rosie is also the committee member who replies to the questions from our readers which often entails doing research to resolve their problems. As a relatively new EPMG, Rosie states that she has learned a lot by doing this research and we appreciate the many hours she has dedicated to make sure each viewer is satisfied. She’s on the ball making sure that EPMG activities are promoted both before and after the event.
In January Rosie became co-chair of the committee and since then has prepared a very comprehensive monthly report for our CEA-Hort and EPMG Board members. It’s been a delight to work with this self-starter who also volunteers in the Ascarate Teaching and Demonstration Garden and greenhouse. Submitted by: Johanna Barr, past Co-chair, Facebook Committee, and Karen Garcia, Co-chair, Facebook Committee.
Dan Liss – 4th Quarter 2016
We all know that the volunteer efforts of the members of our Association enable us to provide the quality services that we offer to the members of the El Paso community. Some folks are well known to everyone in the Association, but others have a quiet presence about them while providing their talent and time to insure that the job gets done.
One of those individuals is Dan Liss, our Master Gardener of the Quarter. Since he certified in 2011 Dan has volunteered well over 2000 hours, the vast majority of which were in the Texas A&M AgriLife Vegetable Demonstration Garden, helping to insure the garden was at its peak throughout the year. His truck is one of the first to arrive on Tuesdays and Fridays and he seldom arrives without a plate of goodies and recipes to share with the staff at the garden. Not everyone loves to manage the compost bin but many mornings, armed with his pitchfork, Dan is there making sure the job gets done.
Without his help and commitment, our annual Home Shows would not happen every year. He is one of the first to say “I can help” when it comes to hauling supplies and setting up our Master Gardener projects. He always has a smile and is eager to jump in, no matter the task at hand. As a co-manager of one of the largest sections of the AgriLife Vegetable Garden, he tends and harvests it as if it were his own. He is the consummate worker bee and a huge contributor to the Association. Congratulations, Dan, for being recognized as Master Gardener of the Quarter. Submitted by Mary Ann McCravey, AgriLife Garden Committee Co-chair.
Dixie Wicker – 3rd Quarter 2016
Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market (AFM) Committee proudly nominates Dixie Wicker for Master Gardener of the Quarter for fall 2016. Dixie has shown unwavering support of this project over the last three years. Upon her request, she was allowed to step down as AFM Co-Chairperson, but in reality she “stepped down” in name only. Dixie is the ultimate gracious soul who continues to volunteer to serve as an Opener and Closer, taking more than her share of shifts. She is the gentle overseer who keeps us in line with our finances and supplies and doesn’t mind making that extra trip to Sam’s Club to pick up grocery bags at the last minute. Even when she has not volunteered to work a shift, she is always willing to help tie up loose ends by hauling boxes back to the garden or going out of her way to make bank deposits. She shows love and respect for all of our Master Gardener volunteers, whether it’s encouraging folks at the garden on Tuesdays, sending letters of gratitude and appreciation to volunteers, or bringing home-made goodies to share, you feel the love when you work with Dixie. It is this spirit of selfless giving, hard work and good humor that makes Dixie a very special Master Gardener. AFM is far better for her participation. Submitted by Penny Leslie and Patsy Sanders, Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market Committee Co-chairpersons.
Lewis Cole – 2nd Quarter 2016
The AgriLife Garden Committee nominated Lewis Cole for Master Gardener of the Quarter: Do you need someone to build a cage around your garden for protection from desert dwellers, turn your compost bin, pull weeds, dig post holes, trap squirrels, build gates, clean up after a party, transport vegetables to the Farmers’ Market at Ardovino’s and work the 6:00 a.m. shift, or plant a garden of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant? Then, Lewis Cole is your go-to guy. These are some of the reasons he has been chosen for the El Paso County Master Gardeners “Master Gardener of the Quarter”. Many work days, he is the first person at the garden and hard at work when the rest of the garden crew arrives. Unless circumstances beyond his control prevent it, he is hard at work every Tuesday and Friday. There is no job too large or too small for Lewis – he tackles them all. And on Fridays, he often brings great snacks to nourish the garden crew. Since taking the Master Gardener class in 2009, Lewis has logged close to 3,000 volunteer hours in the Association, the majority of which are at the Texas A&M AgriLife Vegetable Demonstration Gardens. You always know exactly where you stand with Lewis and goofing off in the garden is not an option. But, he’ll never ask you to do something he wouldn’t do himself. He is a larger than life personality, a hard worker, a very loyal friend and a tfrue asset to the Association. We are happy to recognize Lewis Cole as the Master Gardener of the Quarter. Submitted by Mary Ann McCravey, AgriLife Garden Committee Co-chair.
Charles McGuire – First Quarter 2016
The AgriLife Garden Committee would like to nominate Charles McGuire for Master Gardener of the Quarter. He is one of our Emeritus members and despite health issues, he still manages to come to the greenhouse several days each week. He has trained many of us so that we can manage the greenhouse when he cannot be there. Charles used to come to the greenhouse every day. He has instructed us in the propagation of all the plant sale and many of those that we plant at both the Ascarate teaching garden and at the AgriLife market garden. Charles has been a Master Gardener since 2000 and been working at the greenhouse for many of the years he has been certified. Submitted by Mary Ann McCravey, AgriLife Garden Committee Co-chair.
Ed Beeler– Fourth Quarter 2015
The Class Committee would like to nominate Ed Beeler for Master Gardener of the Quarter. Ed has been part of the Class Committee for three years. Ed was a vital part of the team while the class was located at the Garden Center. He opened gates, made coffee, set up the computer system, and even mopped floors! Though our roles have changed upon moving to the Ascarate Annex, Ed has faithfully shown up for EVERY class–except for the day that he had surgery! And, he was right back at work the following week. Ed has had to rearrange his life due to health issues, not only with him, but with his wife. He found a “chauffeur” (his very kind daughter, Linda) to bring him EARLY to classes every week, and continued to be a giver of his time and resources during the class. His knowledge of gardening and the issues involved in it is imparted to those who ask. He freely shared several kinds of garlic that he had ordered for home growing with the entire class. He and Linda participated in the Christmas giving program that Extension has for needy children. I cannot say enough about this extraordinary man! He does not let the circumstances of life, age, health issues, or ANYTHING get in his way from doing what he has committed to doing. He has great integrity and morals. He is an example to us all and would be a wonderful start to the year for being Master Gardener of the Quarter. Respectfully submitted, Helen Abresch and the Class Committee
Chris Smith – Third Quarter 2015
The Farmers’ Market Committee nominates Chris Smith for Master Gardener of the Quarter. We don’t know what we would have done this year without this dedicated Master Gardener. Chris has been a Certified Master Gardener since 1996. Since that time, she has consistently volunteered to work the Master Gardener Booth at Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market. This year she accepted the responsibilities for opening and closing our booth. Her positive attitude and calm demeanor set the tone for the great work that her volunteers performed during their shift. She is not only bright but organized, too. She quickly learned how to set-up and take-down the booth and how to accurately complete the paperwork. This enabled her to effectively lead and assist her team members with these “housekeeping” duties. But it is her wealth of gardening knowledge that really sets her apart. She is able to establish instant rapport with people and answer their gardening questions with research-based facts coupled with real life experience. Even though Chris continues to work a full-time job, she makes the time to persist with her passion for gardening and community service. We are the benefactors of her dedication. Thank you, Chris Smith, for all that you bring to our Master Gardener Program and specifically for your service at the Master Gardener Booth at Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market. Submitted by Penny Leslie and Patsy Sanders, Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market Committee Co-chairpersons.