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Bates honored as state’s top Master Gardener coordinator

Almost 20 years ago, she helped plant the seeds to sprout theMaster Gardeners organization in Mississippi. And about a monthago, she bloomed with joy after being named the statewide MasterGardener Coordinator of the Year.

While serving as the horticulture agent for Hinds, Rankin andMadison counties 19 years ago, Mississippi State University LincolnCounty Extension Service Director Rebecca Bates was responsible forstarting a Master Gardeners program in Mississippi. In May, she wasnamed Master Gardeners Coordinator of the Year at the MasterGardeners Statewide Conference in Ellisville.

“I thought it was pretty neat that 19 years later I received MasterGardeners Coordinator of the Year,” said Bates.

There are 40 counties involved in the Master Gardeners program inMississippi. And while the number of nominations is uncertain, itwas never a doubt for local club members to put their coordinatorup for the award.

“The first Master Gardeners class, she walked in that room and shewas instantly one of us, supporting us like a cheerleader,” saidMaster Gardener Edna Bishop. “Not only did she motivate us, but shewas there with us.”

Bates has been serving as the Lincoln County Master Gardenerscoordinator for about the past five years and this is the firsttime she has received the award.

“Thrilled, excited, we were really relieved that she finally gotwhat she deserved, in a good way,” said Master Gardener Cathy Ivy.”She finally got the recognition that she deserves.”

While area Master Gardeners claim it is their coordinator thathelps the organization blossom, Bates said it is because of themshe is able to offer so much to the program.

“Our Master Gardeners here in Lincoln County do incredible thingsfor the city and the county,” said Bates. “Beautification projects,obviously, are one of their main focuses and they also help me witheducational programs.”

Bates does not keep her shovel strictly in the dirt of MasterGardeners’ flowerbeds, but she also works with the Lincoln CountyForestry Association and helps organize agricultural classes andevents through the extension office.

“For us, she is very supportive, just works really hard; she isalways working, not just with us but with all the differentagricultural things going on,” said Ivy. “She stays busy with allof it and she is always supportive of us.”

Currently, Bates is working on the Brookhaven Farmers Market, whichis scheduled to begin Friday morning.

“I would really like for people to realize how good Rebecca is forLincoln County,” said Bishop.