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Black Hills Spirit of Volunteerism Awards announced


News Staff - September 5, 2019

RAPID CITY, SD - The expression "bloom where you're planted" means a person should take advantage of the opportunities they have in life and be grateful for the present situation.

It best describes the recipients of this year's 2019 Black Hills Spirit of Volunteerism Award. From compost to planting, the community gardens in Rapid City wouldn't  be blooming if not for the compost donated by the Rapid City Landfill and the green thumb of Master Gardener Janet Smith.

SDSU Extension nominated both for their support of community gardents.  "SDSU Extension cannot create community gardens on our own. We really need the community to be involved to make them happen," explained Prairey Walkling, SDSU Extension Family & Community Health Field Specialist. "Gardening soil has a cost. Without the landfill donating compost, we wouldn't be able to have raised beds in our community gardens and without volunteers like Janet, community gardens wouldn't thrive."

A former part-time employee of SDSU Extension, when her position was closed,  Smith didn't stop working. Since 2017, she has volunteered countless hours working and mentoring in numerous SNAP-Ed funded community gardens, including: General Beadle Elementary Garden, Northern Heights Shire Garden, Lakota Homes Garden and many Youth and Family Services gardens. She was integral in planning and executing the 2017-2018 Youth & Family Services and SDSU Extension Harvest Festivals.

Smith does research, drafts garden layouts and provides evidence-based information she learned through Master Gardener courses. She helped write grant proposals to improve community gardens.

In true volunteer spirit, Smith helps wherever she's needed. "Janet isn't afraid to get dirty. She has helped unload many loads of compost," Walkling said.

Walkling added that because many community gardens operate with minimal resources, Smith has even donated her own gardening equipment. "She is resourceful and great at repurposing items for the garden," said Walkling, describing a time when Smith brought over one of her own hoses to a community garden, put holes in it and created a DIY watering system.

More than 50 Rapid City citizens and businesses were nominated for the fourth annual Spirit of Volunteerism Awards. Organized by the Helpline Center, these awards recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers throughout the community.

To learn more about community gardens, visit extension.sdstate.edu. To learn more about how you can become involved as an SDSU Extension volunteer, contact Walkling.



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