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Master Gardener Program

All Florida Master Gardeners are volunteers, trained and certified by the University of Florida Institute of Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Cooperative Extension Service, to assist Extension Agents in disseminating residential horticultural information to the residents of Florida.



The Santa Rosa County Master Gardener Program began in 1987. Beth Phelps was the Santa Rosa County Extension Agent.  In 1989, Daniel Mullins became the Horticultural Agent.

From 1987 to 1993 Master Gardener training classes were taught in Escambia County as a joint effort between the two counties. In 1994, Dan Mullins held the first Santa Rosa County MG class in Milton. From 2004 to 2012, Theresa Friday was the Environmental Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator. Since January 2013, Mary Derrick has served as the Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator.

In 1994 the first bylaws were written and adopted and the first officers were elected.

In 1995 the “Earthworm” newsletter was developed by Barbara Robinson and has become an established form of communication of information to its members.


Volunteer Service

Since its’ inception, the Santa Rosa County Master Gardeners Association (SRCMGA) has contributed more than 77,000 volunteer hours to the people of this county.

Year Number of volunteer hours Number of continuing education hours Cumulative Hours
2002 4625.75 642.75 30064
2003 8500.1 537.55 38564.15
2004 7026.4 608.5 45590.55
2005 5207.45 1070.25 51091
2006 7933.9 1164.5 59024.9
2007 8243.3 1250.5 67268.2


In 2013, two Santa Rosa County Master Gardeners, Johanne Fleming and Sally Menk, were honored for their 25 years of service.

25 year MG Awards 2013

Left to right: Mary Derrick, Residential Horticulture Agent; Sally Menk and Johanne Fleming, Master Gardeners; Mike Donahoe, County Extension Director.



The Santa Rosa County Master Gardeners have won many State of Florida Master Gardener Awards of Excellence. Please note that only one Award of Excellence is presented each year, in each of a dozen or so categories, so the competition for these awards is very keen.

1997: Received the Award of Excellence for Extension Awareness for their work at the South County Extension Office.

1998: Received the Award of Excellence for Beautification for the Navarre Nature Walk Wildflower Garden. A Santa Rosa County Master Gardener, Hank Hannum, received a national award, The Alice W Burlingame Award, for his work at the Milton Avalon Center.

2000:  Received the Award of Excellence for Service to 4-H and other youth for the Growing Gardeners Program Instructional Book.

2004: the Santa Rosa County Master Gardeners received three Award of Excellence.  The Gulf Coast Gardening from the Ground UP educational series won in the General Achievement category.  Marge Hiller’s Adaptive Gardening Program won in the Special Audiences category.  The Panhandle Butterfly House won the Demonstration Garden award.

2007:  the Award of Excellence for County Displays/Exhibits was presented to Carol Morgan for her Landscaping for Wildlife educational display.


    • General Achievement for the 2007 TREEmendous Give Away Field Day
    • Service to 4-H and other youth for the Panhandle Butterfly’s House “Kiderpillar School”.
    • County Displays/Exhibits for the Pest-a-Hut created by the 2007 Master Gardener Class

2009:  The Panhandle Butterfly House receives the 2009 Curtis Kingsbery Educational Award from the Francis M. Weston Audubon Society.  The award is for “increasing awareness of Florida’s biological diversity through the study of butterflies and their habitats.”


    • State Award of Excellence, County Displays/Exhibits for “Green’s Anatomy”, the MG class of 2009 class project
    • State Award of Excellence, Newsletter for “The Earthworm”, Lois Scott and Kay Ottley editors


    • State Award of Excellence, County Displays/Exhibits for “Home Grown Tomatoes”, the MG class of 2010 class project.
    • State Award of Excellence, General Achievement for the greenhouse project.


    • State Award of Excellence, Extension Awareness



The Santa Rosa County Master Gardeners currently work on many diverse projects, which includes staffing walk-in plant diagnostic clinics and answering clinic questions over the telephone. They work with youth through the Growing Gardeners Program and Garden Mosaics.  The Master Gardeners assist in maintaining the Teaching and Demonstration Gardens at the Milton Extension Office and gardens at the University of Florida Milton campus.  Master Gardeners are active in speaking to garden clubs and other groups through our Speaker’s Bureau.  Others prepare displays for the Pensacola and Santa Rosa County Fairs. Santa Rosa Master Gardeners join with other community volunteers to operate the Panhandle Butterfly House in Navarre Park.

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