Mary Mathews of Locust Fork received the Jefferson County Master Gardener intern of the year award at the graduation event held recently at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. She completed the master gardener course in Jefferson County, where a night class is offered, but she volunteers her time in Blount County.
In order to earn her award, Mathews traveled to Botanical Gardens for 14 weeks of a night-time class since she holds a full-time day-time job with the Locust Fork school system.
After receiving certification, she joined Blount County Master Gardeners and is an active and beneficial member. She works diligently to keep the club active and to make available opportunities to help club members receive their service hours. She applies her gardening skills in many ways, such as providing arrangements for school functions, providing and caring for plants in the school building, and bringing plants propagated from home.
For the Jefferson County course, Mary’s volunteer service time exceeded 600 hours, which shattered the previous record of 250 hours, according to program director Tony Glover. She and her husband live at Locust Fork. They have two daughters. Junior master gardener program
Mathews is one of three school sponsors for Locust Fork’s junior master gardener program, which has 52 active seventh and eighth-grade members involved in many gardening activities, including maintaining raised beds, attracting butterflies to the school, and placing birdhouses in the area. The other two sponsors are Sherry Brewer and Natricia Case.
Junior club members created and designed “Toad Abodes,” or toad houses, during a recent club day. The Toad Abodes attract toads and frogs, which are natural pesticides for the club’s raised beds and gardens and for the school grounds. They also help control the mosquito population.