4-H Centennial, Xeriscape Gardening Highlight Report
Beneath towering oak trees at the historic courthouse, the Cooperative Extension Service on Monday presented its annual report to the Moore County Board of Commissioners.
The Extension Service used the occasion to recognize new xeriscape gardening and introduce the 4-H Club centennial observance.
Xeriscape gardening, in the form of water-conserving plants, surrounds the courthouse as a permanent reminder of the work and inspiration of Master Gardener Volunteers.
The commissioners were given their first glimpse of a renovated van now serving as the M2 Mobile Educational Unit, a joint initiative with Partners for Children and Families Smart Start Partnership.
"It's easy to read because we're usually driving slower than everybody else on the road," said Craven Hudson, director of the Moore County Center of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.
Hudson was talking about wording on the sides of M2 Mobile, which was cleaned up and painted by county personnel with help from jail inmates.
"It's a mobile classroom enabling us to leave Carthage and go wherever we want to go," Hudson said of the mobile messenger equipped with wireless Internet connection.
Caitlin Conrad, community educator for Partners for Children and Families, briefly explained the part the mobile unit will play in that program.
The ceremony opened with a welcome by Joyce Frye, chairwoman of the Extension Advisory Council, and ended with the serving of 4-H Centennial ice cream from the M2 Mobile.
Two state 4-H winners were recognized.
Evelyn Monroe, state 4-H winner of the barbecue chicken cook-off, said she is excited about traveling to the national contest, winner of which will receive a college scholarship. 4-H Agent Linda Gore said the high school senior has been a 4-H'er for 12 years.
"4-H has brought me a long way," Monroe said.
Kathy Lawrence was introduced as Moore County's inductee into the first class of the North Carolina 4-H Hall of Fame. She was inducted in July.
Hudson also announced that Lawrence, a former club member and longtime 4-H volunteer, is chairing the county's 4-H Centennial Committee, which will kick off the local celebration on Oct. 10 with an event featuring hot air balloon rides, among other events.
"We're going to have a big celebration," Hudson said.
Dr. Arlene Hantjis, project coordinator for the Master Gardeners' courthouse xeriscape, thanked fellow volunteers for their service and also thanked county personnel for assistance, including Bobby Lake and his property management crew, County Manager Cary McSwain for his vision "for a garden renovation that also conserves water," and the county commissioners for financial commitment.
"This was a challenging but highly interesting project, one that occupied much of our time over the last year and a half, and one that made us -- many of whom are 'transplants' from 'up North' -- feel really a part of Moore County," Hantjis said.
Hantjis said the xeriscape project was designed to educate the public, especially the large number of people moving here from other areas, about the need to conserve water and how to choose ornamental plants that can survive on little water. Copies of this plant information is available at several gardens developed by the Master Gardeners and also at the reception desk in the courthouse.
In a review of their work, Hantjis said the Master Gardener volunteers were consistently dedicated in their work, ranging for numerous meetings to discuss plant choices and trips to nurseries and garden centers to actually tilling the soil and planting the plants. The volunteers also watered the plants on a regular basis, because, as she explained, "even drought-tolerant plants need regular water for a year or two."
Major plantings needing special assistance from the county crew were 25-gallon red robin hollies and 15-gallon Chinese junipers. The county crew also pulled out the old plantings and helped to till the soil and apply the new ones.
Hantjis praised the volunteers for their dedication in the face of personal obstacles. She said that some volunteers have full-time jobs and must work around their jobs while others had to deal with personal health issues and family emergencies.
"I feel personally honored to have worked with such an amazing group of people, some of whom I had not even met before they joined this project," Hantjis said.
Certificates of appreciation were presented to those volunteers present for the program. Extension Agent Taylor Williams, who facilitates the Master Gardeners, read the names, and Nick Picerno, chair of the Board of Commissioners, presented the certificates.
A stroll around the courthouse can turn into a botany class with each plant marked with common and scientific names. The stroller will see such plants as green luster Japanese holly, variegated gardenia, sky pencil holly, green columnar juniper, hairy alumroot and love pat hostas as well as the big hollies and junipers.
As the program wound down, Hudson invited everyone to visit the mobile unit for ice cream served by Gore and fellow Extension Agent Agnes Evans.
The 4-H Centennial ice cream turned out to be a creamy variation of the popular camping treat known as s'mores.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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