It is bittersweet that one of our long-time Master Gardeners has retired from our ranks with the Cameron County Master Gardener Association (CCMGA) with over 20 continuous years of service as a “member in good standing” combined between two Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Associations.
On the other hand, it is a great honor for the CCMGA Executive Board to honor Colleen Catlett with the designation of “Master Gardener Emerita”.
Prior to becoming a Master Gardener, Colleen was a 4-H garden project leader for four years, a county program assistant from 1995-1999 and she also implemented school and community gardens through Cameron County with the South Texas AmeriCorp Initiative.
She started her MG training in 1998 and graduated to February 1999 via the Rio Grande Master Gardener Association. At that time this association was the only one in the RGV. Also during those days, interns were required to complete a class project. Colleen’s class had to locate a site to build a garden and partner with someone to fund the project. Her class partnered with the Harlingen Water Works Department to build a water-smart garden near the city reservoir across from the library.
When the CCMGA formed a chartering agreement through Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Colleen was one of the charter members. Colleen was continually active, not only as a regular member, but was instrumental in the development and growth of the CCMGA by holding many positions and chairing many committees.
Colleen was elected President one year and filled in another year following the resignation of the elected President. She served two terms as Vice President and several years as State Director which required her to attend meetings in College Station. She was Arboretum Chairman in 2014 as well as the for the first four years after CCMGA received the property for the arboretum.
She chaired many committees, including the one which worked with Commissioner David Garza’s office to acquire the Arboretum property. She chaired the Design Committee for the Arboretum and also served as Arboretum Chairman for the first four years after the CCMGA received the property for the Arboretum and again in 2014. She worked on the submission of several grants, including assisting a committee which requested a $30,000 grant. She also designed the CCMGA logo which is the native hibiscus flower. She co-chaired the Herb Extravaganzas for four years.
Colleen received many awards over the years, including MG of the Year in 2009 and 2014. She has repeatedly received recognition for over 100 hours a year of volunteer service. In 2015, she received an award for 20 years of continuous service and was recognized at the Texas Master Gardener Annual Conference in Belton, Texas.
In as much as continuing education is a requirement for all members, Colleen went beyond that minimal requirement and completed the Landscape Design School in College Station in 2003.
The Cameron County Master Gardener Executive Board of 2016 concur unanimously that Colleen Catlett meets the qualification for the emerita designation and respectfully request that the Texas AgriLife Extension Service approve and concur, thus honoring her with this designation.