University of Nevada, Reno


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20th Anniversary Yearbook


  • What project(s) are your currently involved with? What types of things do you do? Why did you choose this project? Why do you keep going back? What makes this project special?

    EVERYONE should be able to contribute to this Life Story since we’re all working on projects! Don’t be shy…share an experience, situation, remembrance. Help create our history.

    TAKE A PHOTO next time you meet. Email to Ann so we can document ALL our projects.

    To see photos of some current projects, click here.

  • E-mail your answer to Ann Edmunds



Question 2

What was the first project you volunteered on? When? What did you do? Who was the chairperson? Any memorable incidents or favorite times? What did you like most about this type of volunteer work?

Cynthia B.

The first project was volunteering at the Orchard. I chose the orchard as I just moved here from California and wanted to sucessfully grow fruit trees. Bob had me crawling thoughout the dense asparagus vines removing the female plants as "they spend most of their energy growing berries" (their babys) not stalks. I was happy as a clam - in my element. When I emerged somewhat disheveled 20 minutes later with all the female plants, Bob shook his head in amazement and utterred, "You are a wild woman." I went back as I love working in the dirt and Bob always made sure that we learned something about the plants and trees in the orchard. He had me pruning back the wine grape vines the next time, which made Jon very very nervous with warning about the demise of the wine crop for next year if it was not done right. I smiled. I had grape vines in California and had even learned to girdle them if you wanted bigger table grapes.

Mary R.

After thirty years, I retired in 1991. By spring of 1992 I had cleaned and organized every closet and cupboard in my house and had held a huge garage sale, so when I read Linn Mills' column that spring morning and he was writing about a new Master Gardener class being formed, I went straight to the phone to sign up.

I had grown up gardening. As a kid in Nebraska during the Depression, although I didn't realize it then, we depended on our mother's garden for a good portion of our food. My mother once sent a picture of me holding one of her giant beefsteak tomatoes in to the Burpee Seed Co. When the next Burpee Catalog arrived, there it was--a picture of a scrawny little red-headed, freckled-faced girl holding that big tomato.

Our first Master Gardener class consisted of 25 students. Everyone sat eagerly absorbed by the speaker of the day. As the classes neared their end, we were told that we had to think up community projects to become involved in, since we were a new Master Gardener organization to Las Vegas.

Master Gardeners working on the rose garden at UNLVOne speaker, Dennis Swartzell, who was then the supervisor of the arboretum at UNLV, had told us during his lecture that UNLV had a hiring freeze in place and as people left, they could not be replaced. He proposed that, if some Master Gardeners would agree to help at the grounds one morning a week, he would, in turn, provide an educational experience for us. And that is how one of our first community projects started, and continued for many years, even after Dennis retired from UNLV to pursue other interests.  (Click on photo of Master Gardeners working at UNLV, above, to enlarge it.)

Of course, we had to all agree to spend so many hour answering telephone questions, because as the city grew, so did the number of phone calls, and at that time, they were all sent to Aggie Roberts (what a devoted person she was!)

Soon after we "graduated" we were taken on a tour of the horticulture facility at the Mirage. We were amazed at the volume of plants and flowers they used. (I can still see visions of Master Gardeners crawling in and out of the huge dumpsters rescuing orchid plants that had been discarded. Once the plant stopped blooming it was discarded and replaced with a blooming plant. They had to have enough flowers on hand for any situation that might come up, which meant that when their weekly shipment arrived, there were still flowers sitting there--a few days old--that did not meet their strict criteria for freshness and were discarded.)

I came away thinking of all the people in Las Vegas who never have fresh flowers and how many were discarded without being used. I proposed a plan to ask for these flowers and take them to people in rest homes that would otherwise never get a bouquet of flowers. And that's how Flowers For Seniors was started.  (Photo below -- click to enlarge it.)

The Flowers for Seniors project in action.My proposal was accepted and arrangements were made to pick up their excess flowers every week and take them to my garage where a group of 4 or 5 people would make them into bouquets and deliver them to rest homes in the area. We would pick up the flowers, take them to my garage where a group of 4 or 5 people would sort them and make them into arrangements.

We scrounged and made containers into vases and made about 60 arrangements each time. Then we would load them into a camper and take them to give to the many surprised, reluctant (some were afraid to accept them because they feared there may be some "strings attached") but all happier recipents. We had made little gift cards to attach explaining the bouquet was a gift from the Master Gardeners, so as we went from room to room, we could leave them even if the person was napping.

After distributing all the arrangements, we would head home weary and exhausted and facing a messy garaage to be cleaned, I aways said a silent prayer of thanks that I was one who was able to be the "giver" and not the recipient. While I have served on many committees, i.e. Nursery Liaison Committee, Telephone Tree Committee, etc., this was without a doubt the most rewarding.

Jim S.

The first project I volunteered on was the Old Desert Demonstration Gardens. I was in training for a docent. This was fall of 2002.

I have no idea who the chair was, but there were about 20 or so of us. I did it as it was a great way to learn the basics, kind of like phone duty. You learn fast, because you have to answer questions. I liked to talk with the head groundskeeper there. He was very informative.

I also began early to work at Red Rock Visitor Center in the fall 2002/spring 2003. Clara H., was, of course, the chair. We had 10 or so regulars. Weed patrol was the most boring but had to be done. Most fun was when we started our own desert propagation area. We tried to grow lots of desert plants from seeds. We had some success. We also helped out caring for the desert tortoises.