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Spotlight on . . . Mary Nell Jackson, Collin County Master Gardener

Spotlight On: Mary Nell Jackson

By Dawn Bluemel Oldfield, Public Relations Chairperson

Mary Nell Jackson is a Collin County treasure. Her effervescent personality bubbles over into her enthusiasm for all flora and fauna in nature. A horticulturalist extraordinaire, Master Gardener, and member of the Herb Society of America, she happily shares her passion and knowledge to help others find joy in gardening.

Mary Nell is a founding member of our association, and sadly the only active member of the founding class. Mary Nell explains, “Collin County had no MG association 20 + years ago. A few of my gardening friends and I tried to be accepted in Dallas County MG group but were rejected because we didn’t live in the county. A few of the group found out we had to be approved by A&M plus go through our county commissioners among other stipulations to form a Master Gardening group in our county. It was an interesting task as many didn’t think Collin County was large enough at the time to support a Master Gardener Association. (Look at us today!) We finally succeeded in 1996 and the founding class was accepted, a group of less than 20 graduated in 1997.”

Mary Nell smiles, “I’m not sure what my official role with CCMGA is but I love to research and teach gardening. I’ve enjoyed writing for our newsletter in the past for many years and given programs for the group in addition to giving workshops. The most memorable one was Garden Journaling when CCMGA hosted the state conference. I co-teach our annual Herb class for the new students so I think maybe educator might be my role. My love for herbs is a driving force!”

“CCMGA has enriched my life in so many ways. The friends I have made are a wonderful bonus. I learn from their experiences daily. Gardeners are such a sharing group and Master Gardener pass-along plants have added beauty to my own garden. Often without intention I find their garden wisdom something I can apply to my classes or add to a power point,” Mary Nell shares.

“I hope my role as a member of this organization is supportive with the classes I teach, the programs I present, and my  plant donation in addition to the knowledge I have from being a founding member perhaps I can demonstrate longevity. I do work behind the scenes but that wasn’t always the case. After so many years I’ve found that those in the association’s leadership roles know they can call on me and often I can give an opinion about how things worked or failed in the past years. I do know about all the past skeletons in the closet!!!”

Mary Nell adds, “I’d encourage anyone who has an interest in gardening to consider the Master Gardening program. I feel great pride knowing that CCMGA is one of the best Master Gardener groups in the state. We’ve grown into a wonderful organization from those few members in 1997. I feel fortunate to have been a member of the founding class. Those small steps in establishing CCMGA in 1996 have amounted to great strides today in making a positive impact on our county. Who knew those few of us with a love of gardening way back then could have made such a difference in 2021.”

“Gardening. It’s a passion,” Mary Nell says with a smile.  “It’s being part of a bigger story.  Be a caretaker of your own garden, and you are caring for the Earth. I’m so glad I found my bliss in the garden.”

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