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Rockdale Master Gardeners to honor volunteer work with new award

CONYERS -- The Rockdale County Master Gardeners will recognize the top green thumb in the community with its new Volunteer of the Year award.

The group is accepting nominations for the award through Jan. 15. The award will be announced in February.

The Master Gardeners is a group of local residents who have received their certification for being expert gardeners through the county's Cooperative Extension Service. Members volunteer throughout the year as part of their certification by offering lawn care and gardening advice to the public and working on community projects.

Members also help out each year with fund raising events such as the selling of cherry tree saplings at the Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival and the annual Master Gardeners plant sale and festival.

Other programs include the community's Plant a Row for Hunger garden to provide fresh produce to the local food bank, the education garden for youth at the Extension office on Parker Road and upkeep of gardens at the Light House Village, Nancy Guinn Memorial Library, Olde Town Conyers and the arboretum at the Georgia International Horse Park.

Jessie Brown of the Master Gardeners explained the idea for the award came as a chance to say thanks to individuals who work to promote master gardening and improve the community through volunteer work.

"A lot of the work by all of the master gardeners goes on behind the scenes, but they make a huge impact from the Vaughn Botanical Garden, at the Veteran's Memorial, to answering gardening questions from the public," she said. "We hope this award will highlight an outstanding volunteer each year and also the work of the Master Gardeners as a whole."

The volunteer of the year award will be based on a point system for each nominee covering attendance to regular meetings, regional seminars and workshops and participation in events.

Nomination forms are available at the Extension Service office, located at 1400 Parker Road, or by contacting Brown at jessiebrown@bellsouth.net.

For more information about the Master Gardeners program, go to the County Cooperative Extension page on the county's Web site, www.rockdalecounty.org.