El Paso Master Gardeners Receive Search for Excellence Awards
El Paso County Master Gardener Association is proud to report that our two entries to the Texas Master Gardener Association Search for Excellence 2021 Awards were both winners at the 2022 Texas Master Gardener Association (TMGA) virtual conference. El Paso Master Gardener, Art Corral, received a 1st Place Outstanding Individual Master Gardener award, and our entry, Accessible Gardening for Life, in the Educational Program category also received a 1st Place award.
Outstanding Individual Master Gardener
Art Corral, a former high school teacher and administrator for 42 years, brought his extensive teaching and leadership skills to the very fortunate El Paso County Master Gardener Association (EPCMGA). Certified as a Texas Master Gardener in 2016, Art was elected President of the local association from January 2018 to December 2020. As the President of the association, Art provided the leadership to design and build a new greenhouse to be used as a propagation station at the Ascarate Teaching and Demonstration Garden, all while navigating El Paso County issued pandemic shutdowns that forced the closing of all EPCMGA gardens to everyone for most of 2020. During his last year as president and into 2021, he calmly led the organization through all the ups and downs of the pandemic, working with the County Extension Director and Master Gardener Executive Committee to ensure that everyone was involved, but safe.
In addition to serving as President, Art earned his Master Gardener Advanced Training: Grafting and Budding Certificate in 2019 and was named El Paso County Master Gardener Association Outstanding Master Gardener of the Year in 2020. He continued to strive for the success of the organization in 2021, serving as Co-Chair of the Master Gardener Class, the Nominating Committee, the Greenhouse Committee, and the Propagation Teaching Team, as well as serving as an Ex-officio Executive Committee Member. In 2021 alone, he presented 14 times on the topics of propagation, container gardening, and becoming a Master Gardener.
Art is a phenomenal propagator of plants, an exceptional nurturer of fellow gardeners, and a successful but humble leader who collaborates with others to achieve common goals. Although he is quiet and unassuming, he makes each person who works with him feel valuable and respected.
Art Corral, truly deserving of this Outstanding Individual Master Gardener award, shines when encouraging, teaching, and sharing Texas A&M AgriLife’s research-based practices. Congratulations, Art!
Outstanding Educational Program
Accessible Gardening for Life, an EPCMGA program, received a 1st Place award in the Educational Program category of the TMGA awards. It is an easy to replicate resource that encourages seniors and persons with disabilities to engage in gardening activities at home and/or in community-based programs. Using Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines, El Paso Master Gardeners also built an Accessible Garden within the Ascarate Teaching and Demonstration Garden for all residents of El Paso County who are interested in learning research-based, relevant accessible gardening techniques, adaptations, and tool selections.
El Paso Master Gardeners Bev Clark and Penny Leslie began Accessible Gardening for Life with extensive research and visits to other accessible garden sites in 2017 and continued with materials and presentation development in 2018 and 2019. They contacted area programs serving persons with disabilities to set up visits, provide promotional flyers, and discuss potential educational opportunities. Through December 31, 2021, they offered 12 presentations to 418 attendees, including sharing accessible gardening best practices with the Bell County Master Gardener Association. They uploaded six videos on the topic, two in partnership with Emergence Health Network, to the YouTube channel (EPC_Master Gardeners) that were viewed 263 times. The Ascarate Accessible Garden was also featured on the local news.
An El Paso Master Gardener who attended one of their presentations, commented, “Thanks for such a great presentation! You all covered so much, it was all-encompassing: enabled gardening, therapeutic thinking, and staying happy. So Clever! So Smart! P.S. The adaptable tools were fantastic!” After a farmers market demonstration where they demonstrated several types of commercially made and homemade ergonomically designed garden tools, an attendee commented, “Wow” is not enough! This is brilliant–great minds–huge hearts. Now THIS is a work of service!” Attendees at an assisted living facility hands-on presentation commented, “I liked the knowledge they imparted to us! Awesome to come to us!” Another commented, “Live plants mean life (spoken by a very vibrant 98-year-old.) Thank you!”
The El Paso Master Gardener State Awards Committee and its co-chairs, Evelyn Posey and Gail Hedrick, were instrumental in the preparation and submission of this award entry to TMGA. We thank them for their excellent work. We also thank Denise Rodriguez, El Paso County Extension Agent-Horticulture, for her continuing support and encouragement for our Master Gardener activities.
Article – Evelyn Posey
Photos – Art Corral and El Paso Master Gardeners Facebook