Friday, November 30, 2012

Native Plant Conservationist and Greene County Master Gardener Honored with Grow Native! Ambassador Award

The Grow Native! landscaping program recently announced that Mr. Kay Johnson of Springfield has been selected as its 2012 Grow Native! Ambassador Awardee.

He is also a member of Master Gardeners of Greene County, a horticulture and volunteer program under the direction of University of Missouri Extension.

Johnson’s passion for native plants and landscapes is evident throughout southwest Missouri, and can be seen in his conservation work at Woods Prairie and Wah’Kon-Tah Prairie, his educational efforts at Hickory Hills School and Holland Elementary School, and his decade-long leadership at South Creek.

The Grow Native! program annually recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the advancement of the use and promotion of native plants and native plant landscaping. Recognition in the form of the “Grow Native! Ambassador Award” is presented in conjunction with the Missouri Prairie Foundation, a 46-year-old prairie conservation organization, which officially became the home of the Grow Native! program in 2012.

“Mr. Johnson’s passion and conservation work exemplify the goals of the Grow Native! organization, and his outstanding volunteer efforts benefit his community and the natural environment we all share,” said Grow Native! committee chair Carrie Coyne. “Kay’s decade-long efforts with the City of Springfield’s Department of Public Works to restore the natural systems of the upper reaches of South Creek are inspiring. He is a great example of the difference one person can make to the world in which we live.”

David Burton, county program director for Greene County Extension, says Johnson stands out among the many outstanding volunteers with the Master Gardeners of Greene County.

“He volunteers at the MU Extension and Master Gardener hotline answering questions from members of the public and he is active in the gardens at Nathanael Greene Park,” said Burton. “But the effort he has put in on the Hickory Hills project as a Master Gardener is particularly noteworthy, I think.”

Grow Native! is a native landscaping marketing and education program of the Missouri Prairie Foundation. Grow Native! helps protect and restore biodiversity by increasing conservation awareness of native plants and their effective use in urban, suburban, and rural developed landscapes. Through collaboration with consumers, private industry, non-profit organizations, and government agencies, Grow Native! aims to significantly increase the demand and use of native plants in Missouri, southern Illinois, eastern Kansas, and northern Arkansas.

The Master Gardener Program is a popular and successful statewide volunteer community-service organization administered through University of Missouri Extension. The organization’s goal is to train gardeners who are willing to share their knowledge with others. Master Gardeners become volunteers of University of Missouri Extension and donate hours for community educational projects in horticulture. Volunteer activities include working with non-profit organizations, maintaining community gardens, conducting workshops, participating in a Master Gardener speakers’ bureau and staffing the Master Gardener “Hotline.”


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