Welcome to, and from, our new Statewide Master Gardener Manager, Dr. Leslie Madsen

After a national search, Dr. Leslie Madsen (she/her) has joined OSU Extension as the Statewide Master Gardener Manager beginning December 29th, 2023.  Dr. Madsen most recently was the Associate Director for Educational Development in the Center for Teaching and Learning at Boise State University. She is an expert in evidence-based teaching practices that are informed by emerging technologies including different learning styles in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI), as they apply to formal and informal learning platforms. She is equipped to support our coordinators and volunteers with evidence-based teaching practices, support both face-to-face and distant learning, support DEI efforts across programs, conduct educational assessment, evaluation and implementation, and support various digital accessibility technologies – among many other capabilities. Welcome Dr. Madsen!

A note to Oregon’s Master Gardener Volunteers

As I’m cleaning up my garden one last time before listing my Boise house for sale, I find myself looking eagerly to the future. I love to learn, and I have so much knowledge to glean from you about gardening in a temperate, wet forest biome rather than dry, sagebrush steppe. 

Because I’m a historian as well as a gardener, I’m also thinking of the botanist I most admire, the late Alice Eastwood (1859-1953), who served as the herbarium curator at the California Academy of Sciences for 57 years. 

Here’s my favorite story about Eastwood: 

When awakened in April 1906 by the big San Francisco earthquake, Eastwood hurried down to the Academy to check on the collections. As flames licked at the building next door, the 47-year-old Eastwood scaled the banister of the broken staircase to reach the sixth-floor herbarium. Once there, she lowered 1,500 specimens—most of them type specimens—out a window. She commandeered a cart and horse and ensured the specimens stayed ahead of the flames, even as her own home burned. (Today you can find six of Eastwood’s other specimens in the Oregon State University Herbarium.) 

Not surprisingly, Eastwood became a bit of a celebrity. On Eastwood’s 80th birthday, Smithsonian agrostologist Agnes Chase wrote,  

I recall how thrilled I was in the spring of 1906 when the men here were all talking about how Alice Eastwood had saved the precious types in the California Academy Herbarium. At that time women were not admitted to the august Botanical Society of Washington, so we rejoiced not only that the types were saved but that you saved them. And not only do we admire your work. Your unfailing kindness and helpfulness to other botanists has endeared you to all of us.

Chase’s letter to Eastwood captures the fondness I already feel Oregon’s Master Gardeners—even though I’ve only met a couple dozen of you. Your generosity with your time and knowledge is such a tremendous gift to the people of Oregon. I am so impressed with the amazing work you already have done, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside you. 

Eastwood also was famous for cultivating enthusiasm for gardening by building a network of garden clubs, botanists, and volunteers. Like Eastwood, I’m eager to welcome new Master Gardeners and expand our collaborations with organizations throughout Oregon. To accomplish this, I’ll need to draw on your wisdom, experience, and imagination. 

Our work together begins in the New Year. Should you want to say hello before then, the best way to reach me is via email at madsenle@oregonstate.edu. I’m looking forward to connecting and growing with you! 

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12 Replies to “Welcome to, and from, our new Statewide Master Gardener Manager, Dr. Leslie Madsen”

  1. Welcome to Oregon. I hope you will be very happy here working with our strong programs. Hope to meet you sometime. I have been with the Oregon program since its inception as an assistant and volunteer.

    1. Pat, look forward to meeting you. I can’t imagine the historical and institutional knowledge you must have regarding the program—as well as a tremendous amount of wisdom about gardening!

    1. Ah, yes—though I suspect your knowledge there may exceed mine. I had pressurized irrigation in my backyard—which meant easy access to inexpensive water. I tried to garden sustainably, but I wasn’t exactly dryland gardening. 🙂

      1. Thank you for your reply and I believe all of us can learn to use water more sustainably. Big issue for now and in the future.

  2. Thanks for sharing a story of a dynamic plant lover. We come in such a variety of shapes, sizes, and passions.

    Welcome to Oregon.

    1. Mark, yes we do! One of the things I like about Eastwood is that she welcomed all kinds of people into the fold, encouraging them to join clubs and learn from various sources. She seemed especially tickled that the Businessmen’s Garden Club of San Francisco called her their “sweetheart.” 😄

  3. Thank you for sharing the story of Miss Eastwood, I have been a MG for the past 37 years and always enjoyed working in the plant clinic and have been on the Pruning committee for several years. The biggest problem I have is trying to catch up on on the constantly changing technology. I don’t find computers intuitively!

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