2023 Volunteer of the Year Awards
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Every year, we get to celebrate the accomplishments of some of our outstanding volunteers who are driving forces in educating and changing our community for the better through horticulture, youth development, urban agriculture, and many more programs! Please join us in thanking them by reading through a short biography of their accomplishments.
4-H Youth Development Volunteer Award – Helen Johnson
Helen has been a co-leader with Quality Education Academy (QEA) 4-H Pharaohs since 2017. She has been in charge of leading the club’s after-school meetings, volunteer services, and recruiting efforts at the school where the club meets. Recently, Helen has taken on additional responsibilities with her club in the absence of her teammate. Helen assumed additional responsibilities without asking to ensure things continued to run smoothly and help display the excellence of her club. Helen was recently elected as the North Central District 4-H President-Elect for the NC 4-H Volunteer Leaders’ Association. We look forward to Helen’s continued contribution to her Pharaoh Phamily and 4-H!
Extension Master Gardener℠ Volunteer Award – Kathy Johnson
Kathy has been an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Forsyth County since 2016 and was a volunteer with Transylvania County for 10 years before moving to this area. Kathy often shares her expertise as a garden designer in presentations to the public. Kathy has taught classes on both landscape design and using native plants to help other gardeners strengthen their skills and knowledge in these areas. In addition to teaching the public, Kathy also helps ensure that her fellow volunteers are aware of educational opportunities by updating the volunteer website. Kathy serves as co-chair of the Continuing Education Committee and the FACES committee, making sure that volunteers have plenty of educational opportunities and feel connected to their peers. We appreciate Kathy’s willingness to serve in a variety of ways to improve the organization and teach our community about gardening. Thanks for all you do, Kathy.
Urban Agriculture Volunteer Award – Natalie Sevin
Natalie Sevin grows diversified vegetables and herbs at Sungold Farms here in Winston-Salem. Her farm is small but incredibly productive. Though a busy farmer and parent, Natalie has also been a fantastic partner with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Forsyth County Center. Natalie freely offers her farm as a field plot site for insect monitoring projects and farm tours. She is an equally generous collaborator with her neighboring farmers, for example, she has coordinated logistics to help other farmers access Extension resources such as scale certification events. Thank you, Natalie, for being a strong partner to us and our local farm community!
Natural Resources and Environmental Systems Volunteer Award – Sara Devine
Sara has collaborated with N.C. Cooperative Extension through her role as Forsyth County Beekeepers Association (FCBA) past President and Programs Chair. She works with Extension staff to coordinate FCBA events that are accessible to all Forsyth County residents and promotes healthy beekeeping practices that benefit crop production throughout the county. Sara promotes and participates in Extension events such as Farm City. Currently, Sara also serves on the Forsyth County Extension Advisory Council. Thank you, Sara, for your outstanding service to Extension and the Natural Resources and Environmental Systems Program.
Family and Consumer Science Volunteer Award – Marjorie Green
Marjorie has been an ECA member for over 25 years in Forsyth County. For the last 3 and a half years, Marjorie has used her sewing skills to volunteer with an organization called Project Buddy Bear, where they make stuffed bears for a very good cause. Once completed, The stuffed bears are given to first responders, who in turn, will give them to children who are suffering from traumatic experiences such as a fire, auto accidents, or domestic violence. Each bear is made of colorful fabrics stitched together, and no two bears are alike. It takes about a week to make one bear. Project Buddy Bear has produced 1200 bears of which Marjorie figures she has made about 100. We want to honor Marjorie on this day for the contribution of her dedicated sewing skills to bring comfort to children experiencing traumatic situations in Forsyth County communities.
Community Garden Volunteer Award – Lea Nading
Lea has proven to be an excellent source of community-based support for many years. Season after season, she travels all around the county supporting community gardens, often specifically those with the lowest access to resources. From children’s centers, assisted living, and public housing, Lea encourages and nurtures on a scale few volunteers ever manage. We proudly recognize Lea as an outstanding community garden volunteer. Thank you for your service, Lea.
Field Crops/Commercial Horticulture Volunteer Award – Neil Westmoreland
Neil has been instrumental in helping Taylor Darnell, a relatively new Forsyth & Stokes Area Extension Agent working within the Commercial Horticulture and Field Crops program areas. Neil has partnered with Taylor to get essential agricultural programs off the ground. Neil and Taylor have further worked together over the last 5 months to develop strategies to produce a successful agricultural outcome on state-reclaimed land. Neil’s knowledge, cooperation, and eagerness to try new practices are second to none. We are excited to see the results of this cutting-edge research through the establishment of trials and plots that Neil will help to work on with Extension in the future!
Friend of Extension Award – Chris Weavil
Chris Weavil is currently serving the county as the Director of Forsyth County Parks & Recreation. During his tenure with Parks and Recreation, Chris has collaborated with numerous Cooperative Extension staff members in a variety of ways. With a degree in horticulture, Chris has helped diagnose plant issues at various park and garden facilities. He assists in sharing institutional knowledge that is relevant to Extension programs, has attended horticultural functions, supported both the Extension Master Gardeners and the Friends of the Arboretum, and assisted in the bidding process for the Arboretum’s irrigation project. He is a constant supporter of the new partnership between our departments about the new Forsyth County Agricultural Park Complex in Tobaccoville. We believe Chris is a true and loyal Friend of Extension and we are grateful he supports our programs for the betterment of our residents in Forsyth County!
Friend of Extension Award – Mia Jordan
As the teen librarian for Forsyth County’s Central Library, Mia has shown hospitality and cooperation in hosting Extension programming. She has advocated for us in marketing. Whenever a program is held at Central Library, Mia helps with registration and also encourages walk-in attendees to participate in Extension programs. Jordan has been gracious in making regular space on her schedule for Extension programs. Mia has even recommended Extension to other library branches, helping us to serve a wider audience in the county. Thank you, Mia, for partnering with Extension!
Innovator Award – Art Kelley
Art Kelley completed his training as an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in 2019. Art has quickly assumed leadership roles within the program, including serving as secretary of the Arboretum Leadership Team and chair of the Arboretum Adult Education Committee. On the Adult Education Committee, Art has brought fresh ideas and new insights to our program. To reach new audiences, Art helped to organize varied programs, including four sold-out Saturday workshops and a Zoom presentation for the 2023 series of Arboretum Adult Education classes. Art’s creative thinking has helped to diversify Extension’s horticulture education programs in Forsyth County. Art is an outstanding volunteer due to his ability to consider the big picture and help us reach our educational goals. Thank you, Art, for your service as an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer and as an Innovator!