Master Gardener President

Darwin Bell can be reached by emailor phone: 205-602-2582.

Darwin Bell

President’s Message

I can’t believe how fast this year has gone by and that this is my last Presidents Message! I have a number of folks to thank who have worked hard to make this a productive and meaningful year. First the JCMGA Board; Amy Milam, Linda Massey, Terri Barker, Jan Street, Kathy Sherrer and Gary Walker. In addition, I thank all of the Committee Chairs and Committee Members that have worked tirelessly to make this a better organization. This includes Linda Systrom (who passed away recently), Ken Hall, Alicia Hall, Diane Remick, Kathy Rostand, Ann Gray Harvey, Ruth Varnell, Gail Pless, Fletcher Harvey, Hanna Berres, Laura Kazer, and Phyllis Clay among others. We were also able to form three new Committees; Community Service, Sunshine and Fundraising which is still a work in progress. A special thanks goes to Bethany O’Rear and Kate Musso who have played such a vital role as Leaders in the relationship between ACES and JCMGA. A very special thanks goes to Annette Drummonds who is in the ACES office, is wonderful to work with, and a joy to be around. I also thank the membership and all the countless number of hours that have been spent volunteering. The Jefferson County Community and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens are better because of our service.

This has been a year of transition. The most obvious one is a return to in-person meetings, field trips, and special events as the pandemic has subsided, somewhat. This transition started out as hybrid meetings with in-person and zoom and over the year our in-person attendance has improved as more people are comfortable being around their fellow Master Gardeners. I really think we have had some great monthly programs and thank the Program Committee for outstanding work. We also reinstituted the Reunion and Renewal Cocktail Party which was a big hit and a very enjoyable evening. Finally, we will be having, for the first time in a couple of years, the November banquet, with a buffet dinner, that celebrates the graduating ACES Master Gardener Class. Dolores Hydock, who is a wonderful storyteller, will be our guest speaker. Tickets will only be on sale for a few more days so please buy your tickets and plan to attend.

The other major transition, as I have discussed previously, was undergoing incorporation, and submitting our application to be a non-profit 501(c)(3). This was necessitated, in part, by the state MGA no longer allowing us to use their tax ID for fundraising and donations. The state MG Association has been encouraging all local MGA’s to become 501(c)(3). Has this been an entirely smooth process? The answer would be no. But change can be hard for both individuals and for organizations. I would hope that the focus would not be so much on the process, which is important, but rather keep our eyes on the goal. Which is to fundraise and generate sufficient monies to fund a more robust and dynamic Community Service Program. This would involve grants that would sufficiently fund worthy community projects that included our Master Gardeners. Such a program would greatly benefit both the ACES and JCMGA. We both have a common mission which is to address and meet the horticultural needs of Jefferson County. I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season and I am looking forward to 2023. Darwin Bell


JCMGA 2022