UC Master Gardener Program
University of California
UC Master Gardener Program

Feeling at Home with Fellow UC Master Gardeners at the 2017 Conference!


UC Master Gardeners taking photos with friends and fellow volunteers at the social media wall at the conference. Photo credit: Sheila Clyatt
The woman next to me asked if I wouldn't mind passing the butter, then she adds, "Harlequin Beetles are a nuisance." I nod in response and we move on to another exciting lunch topic. I am at a table surrounded by strange garden loving enthusiasts and I feel right at home.

In fact, it is the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference, in Long Beach, and we have descended on a very "posh" hotel with our sneakers, jeans and short practical fingernails. We stand out so much that it is almost humorous. We are a jovial crowd, relaxed and invigorated by the audible buzz of information and humor relayed at every gathering.

Some of the returnees appear to take everything in stride but I am so excited about this event that I push all fear aside and talk to every UC Master Gardener volunteer I meet. I am relieved to establish that UC Master Gardeners are totally approachable, love to share information and some can talk longer on the subject of compost then I can. That is quite an accomplishment.

What is so awesome about this event, is that when entomology is discussed instead of glazed over eyes, my fellow attendees become hypervigilant to the subject and even interject with commentary. These are my people!
I had wanted to attend UC Master Gardener conferences in the past, including the 2014 event in Yosemite. But each year after filling out the application, adding the cost of hotel and transportation I'd determine it's not within my budget. This year with the help of the funds raised by the previous silent auction made available to all UC Master Gardeners volunteers, combined with the cheap airfare on JetBlue I was able to attend.

Having fun with "face coasters" during the awards banquet and silent auction. Photo credit: Sheila Clyatt
The experience was amazing! Everything about the conference was exceptional: we ate great food, listened to stimulating lectures, participated in hands on workshops, and met wonderful staff and volunteers. I also gained an extraordinary sense that I was a part of something bigger and that my contributions back home held a more significant impact because of it.

Witnessing what other UC Master Gardeners were doing in their counties was both inspiring and reassuring. We might not be geographically close - but our goals, efforts and intentions were all in alliance. This comradery of meaningful contribution buffered both my stamina in the program and my commitment to its goals.

I hope that I might be fortunate enough to attend another UC Master Gardener conference in the coming years, and if so, I hope to see you there!

Posted on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 9:46 AM
  • Author: Sheila Clyatt

Comments:

1.
Very well written sounds like something I would love to attend!

Posted by Rose Greven on October 8, 2017 at 9:38 PM

2.
Great article! I couldn't attend the conference in Long Beach, but your article made me feel very comfortable about attending the next one.

Posted by Mary Ann Egan on October 16, 2017 at 12:18 PM

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