Spotlight on . . . Laura Van Poppel, Master Gardener
By Dawn Oldfield, CCMGA Public Relations Chairperson
Laura Van Poppel comes from a family of gardeners and farmers. Working side by side with her parents and grandparents in the garden she learned how they interacted with nature and how to grow food that would nourish them.
Laura says, “I became a Master Gardener in 2015. My children were getting older and I had some time to give to a volunteer organization. I love plants and gardening, so Master Gardener was a good fit that matched my time and passion.”
As the Project Leader for the Nelson Middle School Garden, Laura passes on the love of gardening she learned from her family, and the research-based knowledge she gained through Master Gardener training to students at the school. Laura shares, “I lead the Garden Club that meets twice a week for 30-minutes each time. We have anywhere from 10 to 25 middle school students that do all the work in the garden. I start each session with a mini-lesson and then we do our garden tasks.”
Laura says, “My role naturally supports youth education. Many of the students I teach do not understand where our food comes from, the challenges our farmers face, and the best practices for our environment. They get so excited about watering, harvesting and getting to eat the produce from the garden! That never fails to bring a smile to my day.”
With so many new people moving into Collin County, Laura would advise anyone interested in learning more about gardening to come talk to members of the organization. Laura smiles, “You’ll know if it’s a good fit after visiting a while with a Master Gardener. Gardeners always have some plant or pest to commiserate over. And I love that CCMGA promotes practices in the garden that are research-based. Meeting and visiting with others that share a passion for gardening is pretty great, too!”
Editor's Note: The Nelson Middle School Project won first place in the 2022 Texas Master Gardener Association Search for Excellence Awards in the Extra Large Association Category – Youth Education Other.
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