Master Gardeners across the state were recognized in July for their volunteer efforts as part of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program’s annual awards. In Central Oregon, the “Master Gardener of the Year” award winner was Kathleen Geary of Bend.
When it comes to the awards, winners are recognized for their commitment, time and impact.
“They’re nominated by fellow Master Gardeners, and selected by their local chapter associations with input solicited with their local OSU Extension horticulturist and Master Gardener program coordinator,” said LeAnn Locher, OSU Master Gardener outreach program coordinator. “The awards for Master Gardener of the year recognizes an individual’s leadership, impact and support of the mission of the program: garden education,” Locher said. Statewide, the program had nearly 3,000 volunteers in Oregon last year, who together contributed more than 221,000 volunteer hours—valued at $5.6 million.
Geary said that she first earned her certification as a Master Gardener in 2015. “Since then, I actively participate in community-based projects that include recording for the KPOV radio segment, ‘Gardening: Get Good at It.’ that airs on the Tuesday morning program and The Point,” Geary said. Her favorite area of volunteer work is at plant clinics, where she helps people receive answers about their gardening questions.
Geary first started gardening at an early age when she used to tend to herbs, vegetables and flowers in her mother’s garden. “I grew to understand the growing cycle of plants, and was captivated by the importance of the bees and insects that pollinated the garden that produced my mother’s endless bounty,” Geary said. She became interested in gardening due to growing up in the era of the Silent Spring. Geary grew concerned about the environment, changing climates, food security and how to feed her family.
Geary is involved with the Central Oregon Master Gardener Association, where she acts as a volunteer, educating others about gardening. She also teaches gardening classes. Other OSU Master Gardener community programs she is involved in are Discovery Park Community Gardening and The Point. Geary said she’s been excited to see how gardening has played a role in helping the community with food security during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are fortunate in Bend to have a community that cares for one another. Precarious times call for strength in numbers and gardeners have it all. We grow gardens of vegetables, fruits and flowers for ourselves, and we grow our gardens to share with others,” Geary said.
Outside of gardening, Geary enjoys hiking, kayaking, fly fishing and skiing. She also loves to entertain guests with cocktails and food and can be found in her library reading up on gardening. For more information on Central Oregon Master Gardeners, click here.