UC Master Gardener Program
University of California
UC Master Gardener Program

UC Master Gardeners from Across California “Growing Together” at 2014 Conference

With more than 650 participants, including 48 break-out sessions and four keynote speakers there was a wealth of knowledge and experience available to all that attended the triennial 2014 UC Master Gardener Conference.

Welcome & keynotes

Shelton Johnson, park ranger at Yosemite National Park, welcomed UC Master Gardeners to the 2014 conference in Mariposa County.
To kick-off the conference internationally acclaimed speaker and park ranger, Shelton Johnson, inspired the crowd during his welcome to Mariposa and Yosemite introduction. Johnson is a supporter for exposing minorities to National Parks and connecting them back to the natural world. He has also dedicated a majority of his work around the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and their roles in National Parks during the early 1900s.  During his welcome speech Johnson embraced UC Master Gardeners as a passionate group who had an evident love of nature, soil and the earth.  

Two keynote speakers followed Johnson's inspirational welcome, Doug Tallamy a professor in Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, and Alan McHughen a public sector educator, scientist and consumer advocate for UC Riverside. Tallamy, author of “Bringing Nature Home”, presented the importance of biodiversity in our ecosystems.

“Replacing half of the area that is now barren lawns with plants that are best at supporting food webs would create over 20 million acres of connectivity [nationally] and go a long way sustaining biodiversity in the future,” encourages Tallamy. 

The opening day's final keynote speaker, Alan McHughen, presented on what every UC Master Gardener should know about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). His presentation was focused around his research findings, published in “Pandora's Picnic Basket”. McHughen explained the basics of rDNA technology and how it is used in agriculture and horticulture.  

A magical night at Tenaya

The silent auction was a huge success raising more than $6,400 for scholarships and to help reduce the cost of the 2017 conference for all attendees.
Attendees experienced a “Magical Night at Tenaya” presented by volunteers from the UC Master Gardeners of Fresno County. During the welcome reception guests enjoyed appetizers under the stars while a pianist played on the terrace.

The silent auction was a huge success with many counties donating beautiful baskets of local goods and handmade items. The total raised from the silent auction was more than $6,400! All of the money raised will go to offset the cost of registration for the 2017 conference.

Of the $6,400 raised, $600 was set aside for need-based scholarships.  We're happy to announce the statewide UC Master Gardener Program and UC ANR are matching the $600, bringing the total up to an impressive $1800 to support need-based scholarships in 2017.

Sessions, sessions, and more sessions!

Attendees enjoyed a hands-on propagation workshop during one of the breakout sessions.
Day two of the conference was dedicated to track sessions.  With six breakout rooms and eight different session times there were 48 potential topics for UC Master Gardeners to absorb. Activities ranged from a hands-on propagation workshop and gardening during a drought to UC Master Food Preserver presentations. The array of options for conference participants made 2014 the most diverse UC Master Gardener event to date.

Visit the conference website to download some of this year's most memorable presentations. Many generous speakers have offered to share their presentations for future reference with conference attendees, visit the conference website to view the uploaded presentations.  

Following a full day of learning, attendees were invited to join together in the grand ballroom for dinner. Renee Shepherd, owner of Renee's Garden, joined UC Master Gardeners for dinner as the night's keynote speaker. Shepherd discussed her pioneering career in the seed business as well as future trends in the gardening industry. She also explained the differences between heirlooms, hybrids and open pollinated seed varieties during her presentation titled, “A Seedy Business”.

Search for Excellence Winners and Honoring Pam Geisel 

Bill Frost, associate vice president, presents Pam Geisel with the 2014 UC ANR Distinguished Service award for Outstanding Leadership. From left to right: Bill Frost, Pam Geisel and Missy Gable.
The final day of the conference started with three inspiring presentations from the 2014 Search for Excellence winners. Riverside, Santa Clara and Orange counties presented their winning projects to conference attendees.

Following the winning Search for Excellence presentations was attendees enjoyed a heart-warming celebration of gratitude for Pam Geisel, honoring her years of service to the UC Master Gardener Program. Geisel began her career with Cooperative Extension in 1981 as an environmental horticulture advisor. In 2006, Geisel became the first statewide director of the UC Master Gardener Program, helping to establish the program under the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and doubling program reach before her retirement in 2013. UC ANR's Associate Vice President, Bill Frost, was at the conference to recognize Geisel for her contributions to the program and awarded her with the 2014 ANR Distinguished Service award for Outstanding Leadership.

The conference's final keynote presenter, Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries, delivered a presentation on “Humor from the Horticultural Trenches” with many outrageous remarks and requests from the perspective of a garden clerk. Before attendees got on the road to travel home, a generous donation of plants from Monrovia were awarded to some lucky attendees.

See you in Southern California in 2017

Many thanks to the numerous volunteer, host counties and conference planning committee members who made the 2014 conference a reality.  Without their dedication and support the conference would not have been possible. We look forward to reaping the harvest of our success in growing together at the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference in Southern California.

Do you have a suggestion for the next conference or feedback for this year's event? Let us know at ucanr.edu/mgfeedback.

Posted on Monday, November 3, 2014 at 3:18 PM


Great overview of the conference, Missy!  
For those who couldn't join us, and those who want to review, many of the presentations are posted here:  
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on any of the sessions, A thru F.

Posted by Gail Fulbeck on November 4, 2014 at 6:58 AM

Thanks for sharing the link Gail! - Best, Melissa

Reply by Melissa G. Womack on November 4, 2014 at 7:27 AM

WOW --- talks & workshops look awesome! Thanks for posting the link Gail...GMO Science presentation looks really good.

Posted by Wendy West on November 5, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Hi If any of you bought the Orchard Mason Bee Boxes from Butte county and want more info or just have questions write tom1869g@yahoo.com. Thanks Tom Hansen

Posted by Tom G Hansen on November 6, 2014 at 7:59 AM

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