Introducing a new award: Growing & Belonging

What does it mean to grow our work inclusively? To create an environment where everyone belongs? Let’s find out, together, with our new Growing & Belonging County, and Statewide Awards.

In addition to our Master Gardener of the Year, and Behind the Scenes awards, 2023 marks the first year recognizing and celebrating the volunteers who have significantly contributed in advancing diversity, inclusion, access, and/or equity among Master Gardener volunteers and the communities we work with.

Unlike our longstanding awards of Master Gardener of the Year, and Behind the Scenes awards, these awards do not recognize the length of time served as a Master Gardener, but instead, the impact their work has made in creating a belonging environment, inclusive of diverse communities such as race, ethnicity, culture, abilities, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or growing our volunteer work in traditionally under-invested communities. The best of these projects are co-created with the individuals being served, listening to their needs, and responding with a project that meets those needs.

Some examples:

  • Launched a new Seed to Supper course at a local low-income housing community.
  • Organized a seed swap with the organizers of Juneteenth and helped on site.
  • Introduced a training for fellow volunteers around the importance of the use of pronouns and supporting our transgender community.
  • Created a partnership with a local day-hire advocacy group to provide plant identification training in Spanish to day laborers.
  • Worked with the organizers and clients of a local homeless services center for the best way Master Gardeners could help or partner together to create a community garden.
  • Identified needs for ensuring accessibility for all attendees when attending in-person, outdoor events. Developed a checklist of accessibility options to be used by Master Gardeners in planning these events.

All of these examples center work in partnership with other organizations that have trusted relationships with their communities.

What: County, and Statewide Growing and Belonging Award

Why: This award comes as a recommendation made by your Master Gardener Growing & Belonging Committee. It was approved by the OMGA Board of Directors at the November 2022 meeting.


Deadline: May 15th, 2023

What about the other awards? Same deadline, same process. Information about all of the awards is available here.

Does nominating someone for a county award automatically put them in a pool of nominees for the statewide award? No. That is a common misconception. Like our other awards, separate nominations are needed. County nominations are automatically awarded. Statewide nominations go on to a committee for review. You can enter the same person for both county and for state.

We are excited to introduce these new awards and to celebrate the good work of OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers.

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3 Replies to “Introducing a new award: Growing & Belonging”

  1. This is such an important initiative! It’s crucial that we recognize and celebrate the volunteers who are working towards creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone. I think it’s great that these awards will focus on impact rather than length of service, as this will encourage individuals to prioritize the needs of the communities they work with. My question is: how will the winners of these awards be selected? Will it be based on community feedback, or will there be a panel of judges?

    1. Thank you Frances! It will be judged in the same way all of the awards are:
      County Master Gardener awards are decided upon at the local level. This includes County Master Gardener of the Year, County Behind the Scenes, and County Growing and Belonging awards. Once nomination forms are submitted to the statewide office, we use this information to prepare certificates, press release announcements, and posters that are displayed at that annual Master Gardener statewide conference, known as Mini-College.

      Note that County Master Gardener award winners are not automatically advanced to consideration for statewide awards. A separate nomination form is needed.

      Statewide awards are nominated by county Master Gardener Programs and Associations. This includes Statewide Master Gardener of the Year, Statewide Behind the Scenes, and Statewide Growing and Belonging. Nomination forms are then distributed to the OMGA Awards committee for review, scoring, and discussion, to ultimately determine a winner for each award. This year, the awards committee consists of past winners of the Statewide Master Gardener of Year, including Jane Moyer (2022), Susan Albright (2021), and Chris Rusch (2021). Committee members also include past winners of the Statewide Behind the Scenes Award, including Sherry Sheng (2022) and Sue Ryburn (2021). The Statewide Master Gardener Program Coordinator, Gail Langellotto, serves as committee chair.

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