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Emma Scott Garden Club garners awards

Katy McClane

ELKINS — The West Virginia Garden Club, Inc. (WVGC) announced both national and statewide awards for 2019. The Emma Scott Garden Club (ESGC) won five state awards, plus one National Garden Club award.

The club was awarded the Ashworth Arbor Day Award, Best Pressbook (Large Club, submitted by Judy Guye), and Best Poetry for Grades K, 1,3, 4 and 5 submitted by the Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church after school class. The poetry award winners are Emma Blackwell – Grade K, Jordan Senic – First Grade, Samantha Maxwell – Third Grade, Ximena Diaz – Fourth Grade, and Ian Jones – Fifth Grade. The children will receive a certificate and cash prize.

The club also won the Arendt Award for Environmental Education (Midland Elementary School pollinator gardens), and the Virginia C. Mabley Award for outstanding efforts by a garden club member (Katy McClane).

The National Garden Club’s Youth Environmental Concerns Award, was also given for the Midland Pollinator Gardens. The ESGC was the only overall winner of a national garden club award in the state.

The Midland Elementary School pollinator gardens won both the National and State awards for best project in Environmental Education. Sarah Wamsley, fourth grade teacher at Midland Elementary School, a beekeeper who is passionate about the need to understand the role that bees have in the world, found that children are terrified of bees and have no appreciation of how bees and other pollinators are intrinsic to the environment. She felt that if the children could visually see the value of pollinators and create gardens to observe and care for plus adding to the beauty of their school grounds, they would develop this sense of belonging. However, the school has no gardens or landscaping that encourages pollinators.

The club also won the Arendt Award for Environmental Education (Midland Elementary School pollinator gardens), and the Virginia C. Mabley Award for outstanding efforts by a garden club member (Katy McClane).

With the approval of Principal Teena Wallace, she proposed to develop several gardens on the grounds of the school and have the children actively involved in the design, planting and maintenance of these gardens. She will use this opportunity to teach her class as well as other fourth-graders why these gardens are important to the environment. In many ways, they will serve as an Outdoor Education Space.

Wamsley met with Patricia Mayes, ESGC President, to discuss location of the gardens, size and types of plants to use. She then worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) AmeriCorps volunteers to create two raised beds. The AmeriCorps volunteers found two unused bookcases, removed the backs and installed them on two corners of the lawn near the front entrance of the school.

Once the frames were installed, Linda and Charles Shomo, members of the ESGC who volunteered to coordinate the project, met with Wamsley at the site and decided on plant selection, soil type, tools needed and how to involve the children. Linda Shomo contacted several local businesses and received donations of garden mums and tulip bulbs from Larry Gouer at Mary’s Greenhouse in Elkins and from Jack Bowles, assistant manager of Lowe’s in Buckhannon. She also was able to get donations of iris and daffodil bulbs from the community.

During the first week of September 2019, garden club members brought tools, soil mix, jugs of water and plants to the school and planned how the project would proceed. Since there were two gardens and 40 children, officials had 10 children at a time take turns digging, planting and watering. Officials explained what the plants were, how they grow, how to plant each item and their care. Though officials had some gloves, the children dove in and had a wonderful time getting their hands and knees dirty.

Two beautiful pollinator gardens are now in place to be enjoyed and cared for by the students where there was none before. The gardens were enhanced by new perennials this past spring which will attract more and varied pollinators. It was a great collaboration between Midland Elementary School and ESGC, officials said.

Katy McClane put her creative talents to work in beautification efforts. A planter holding several evergreens was in a very visible spot along Randolph Avenue, and the business owner and Elkins Main Street approved her creation of a ‘train’ graphic which mirrors the scenic train that runs out of the Elkins Depot and Welcome Center.

McClane was awarded the The Virginia C. Mabley Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts by a garden club member. McClane, a resident of Elkins, is a 20-year member of the ESGC with boundless energy and a true love of her community. She is inspiring to others and has done much to improve and educate our town and its people about gardening and the environment, officials said.

She served for four years as the WVGC Historic Preservation and Heritage Plant Committee Chair. She published an article in the National Garden Club’s “Keeping in Touch” online magazine, May 2018, winning a WVGC award in 2019 for best article. She has volunteered for many activities including the annual plant sale, downtown flower planting and Christmas decorating, helped celebrate National Garden Week, and has attended dedications, tours and events related to the club.

She has presented several programs to the club including “Plants of the Middle East,” the Elkins Mountain School project and an informative talk about heritage plants. As a member of the Elkins Tree Board for four years, she was instrumental in impressing on residents the importance of trees on city properties and in neighborhoods. She has also been involved in many Arbor Day activities and has won four Ashworth Arbor Day awards from the WVGC for her efforts, including this past year. These arbor day events have involved middle school children, college students, various community organizations and are spread throughout the city.

Since 2014, she has been the leader in expanding the role of the garden club along with the help other organizations to tackle neglected community gardens throughout the city. The club along with the Volunteer Master Gardeners with WVU Extension Services have taken over the following gardens: the south entrance to Elkins, the Seneca Mall parking lot garden, the Randolph County Arts Center, the Park 2 Ceramics Studio, the Kump Education Center, and landscaping at two Mountain School campuses. She also helped revitalize the WVU Extension Service’s Master Gardener group.

She put her creative talents to work in beautification efforts. A planter holding several evergreens was in a very visible spot along Randolph Avenue and the business owner and Elkins Main Street approved her creation of a “train” graphic which mirrors the scenic train that runs out of the Elkins Depot and Welcome Center. She recruited her husband Richard and son Warren to help out. It was a great improvement along the street and shows her commitment to beautifying the city through multiple means, officials said.

Probably the most satisfying project she has taken on is joining the committee to develop the Horticulture Club at Elkins Mountain School, a special school for boys. She has been actively involved in the hands-on aspect of the Horticulture Club, especially in the Landscape Apprentice Program. She has developed a curriculum of fundamentals including landscape design, weeding, composting; mulching and use of landscape fabric, and the horticulture of perennial, bi-annuals and annuals.

Through her efforts, the club has taken on several major projects, such as revitalizing and designing a stone garden area on recently acquired property on one campus and developing a more attractive overview on the other campus by transplanting bulbs and plants to heal a scarred embankment. Many students have enjoyed learning and participating in the horticulture club thanks to McClane.

The Emma Scott Garden Club meets the second Monday of the month and is always looking for people who share a gardening passion. If you would like more information, contact BJ McKenzie, membership chair, at 304-614-3079 or club President Pat Mayes at 304-338-2784.

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