Letters to the Editor - January 5, 2011

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Mr. Gilpin, where’s the
social function exactly?
After moving to Sumter County five years ago, I became involved in the Master Gardener program. I have done extensive volunteering for the program and have loved every minute of being an “unpaid employee” for the University of Florida. Through my volunteer efforts, I have spent many hours at the extension office and have seen first hand how dedicated the extension employees are and the value of this program to the community. I have acquired a tremendous appreciation for the education the extension does for the county and would like to reply to Mr. Gilpin’s comments in a recent article where he stated that the extension is “strictly a social function.”
I have been involved in the Master Gardener program whose purpose is to train volunteers to teach the public correct horticultural practices as recommended by the University of Florida and find solutions to gardening and landscape problems while being stewards for the environment. I have personally volunteered many hours at the plant clinic and answered hundreds of questions about plant and landscape problems. I would certainly not consider this a “social function.”
The annual Agritunity event has been an extremely enlightening opportunity for me. I certainly did not feel that I was attending a “social function,” but rather an educational event that took a year of planning that involved every facet of the extension department.
The Wildwood Farmers Market offers Sumter County residents an opportunity to buy and sell locally produced products. While creating interaction between vendor and buyer, I would certainly not consider this “strictly a social function.”
I have had several opportunities to be a judge at the 4-H functions. Through these opportunities my eyes have been opened to the important and need of 4-H working with youth. Mr. Gilpin, I did not think I was attending a “social function” when I was judging a 4-H public speaking event and watching these teenagers present their chosen topic in front of an audience. These kids were participating because they wanted to better themselves and develop leadership skills, not because they were at a “social function.”
Mr. Gilpin, please tell me in what part of the extension these “social functions” take place. I have been involved in too many educational events with the extension and need to expand by “social” life.
Gwendolyn Sears