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President's Message - October 2015

It seems hard to believe but our young Master Gardeners provincial organization is now four years old.

It doesn’t seem very long ago that I first met Pat McKendrick, Gay Erickson, Tracy Johnston and others at the first meeting at the Zoo to discuss even the feasibility of forming the MGAA. Many a long talk I recall with Pat over the phone talking through hard questions about our vision, our goals, requirements for membership, and even what it meant to be a Master Gardener.  But slowly and with an absolute ton of work the crew from Edmonton waded through all that it takes to form an Association from filing documents, establishing Bylaws, creating a website, and holding the first events.

Four years in and our Association is ever so slowly and surely evolving to a mature Association, definitely not stagnant, with a definite culture.  Last year saw a profound upheaval as Pat and Gay, the last two of the original visionaries said that it was time for others to step up and move our Association forward.

Much soul searching ensued as we were very much used to the status quo, quite comfortable in fact and originally there wasn’t a full slate of us to make up a new Executive. But sometimes a shock like that makes a group examine what it is that we have created, and what we value about our Association; and make the decision that ‘yes’ - it is important to us and not something to walk away from. So a new Board was elected in November 2015.

It has been a year of learning for all of us: learning who we are as individuals (voices on the phone at our meetings; what are our roles; what are the issues that are holding back the MGGA for growing; what is going well, and what can we as a Board realistically tackle throughout the year. The year was not without its challenges as our Vice-President, Lynn Zuberbuhler, had to resign midway through the year, and busy people can even forget that there is meeting that night!

The Board as whole has really looked at some thorny issues such as the benefits of membership in the MGAA. We had another hard look at what the requirements are to be a member of our Association, and there is a motion up for approval to amend our Bylaws as a result of that discussion. We have looked at what we need to do to communicate better to our diverse members in ways that we want, and though we are not all the way there yet, we are making progress.  And we are really starting to learn what our various roles can be and encompass.

Special thanks go out to Gwen Holland, our Secretary, Treasurer and Membership guru, who has held us together both in the North group and as a Board: doing stellar work throughout the year. I literally don’t think we could have done it without you Gwen!

But now there is another change as Gwen is deciding that she too would like to step back and breathe a bit. And we now have a new Vice-President stepping forward to contribute to our growth, and not one but 4 members taking up positions and willing to do the work of Gwen!

And you know for a small Association it was easy, just falling into place, so as my personal mantra is ‘right time, right place, right people, means that success is assured. I am confident that our next year will be a year for us all to Learn together as Master Gardeners, Connect with each one of us and others too, and Grow and mature as an Association.

 Janet Melrose
President, Master Gardeners Association of Alberta