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Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Overland

Colorado Master Gardener℠ (CMG) volunteers are a dedicated group of individuals who are knowledgeable and passionate about sharing gardening, landscape and horticulture education. This month we are highlighting Mark Overland.

When and why did you join the Colorado Master Gardener program?

I have known long-time Master Gardener Martha Kirk for many years, and she suggested that I would enjoy the program. When I retired, I had the program in mind as being a perfect fit to engage me physically, socially and intellectually. I was admitted to what became known as the “COVID class” of 2020. Given the unprecedented circumstances and our general unease about the situation, I thought the program might be canceled for the year, but the transition to remote learning was managed admirably, and I enjoyed it immensely.

What inspires you about the program?

The wealth of resources available to a Master Gardener is amazing, and bringing those resources to bear on the horticultural and landscaping problems of Arapahoe County gardeners is a wonderful experience. The evidence-based advice that we offer our clients gives me confidence that our suggestions will be sound and beneficial.

What have you learned that you didn’t know before?

I don’t know where to begin on that subject! Like most of us, starting as a youngster loving the world of nature, I acquired my gardening knowledge and experience through a hodgepodge of informal events, not to mention a great deal of trial and error! The structured training provided by the program filled in the large gaps in my understanding about germination temperatures, soil structure, plant disease and insect signs, and more. Plus, starting from knowing nothing about the Extension Service, I have found that its entire resource library and expert staff is an invaluable resource for us all.

Any other thoughts to share with the public…

Our ecosystem is under tremendous stress and is undergoing a momentous transition due to climate change, urbanization, loss of habitat, wholesale extinction of species, competition for water, and known and still-unknown forms of pollution. Along the Front Range, we rely upon a century-old European landscaping paradigm that conflicts with our unique Colorado climate and soils. As a result, native species are not as prevalent. It is essential that we do our best to restore and support the biological infrastructure and its food web that we all depend on. Our role as Master Gardeners can be to encourage good stewardship by promoting plants native to Colorado. It is my hope that if we can encourage Arapahoe County gardeners to cultivate even a small patch of native habitat, we might be able to rescue native organisms and improve the health of our Colorado environment.

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