For the first time in 31 years, Master Gardener College will be held in a new location. The Extension Master Gardener State Coordinator’s Office is proud to announce that next year (2019), Master Gardener College will be held at Hilton Norfolk The Main, a conference center and hotel located in downtown Norfolk.
“We’re very excited about this opportunity to draw volunteers from the eastern part of the state and those who may not have been able to travel to Blacksburg for previous colleges,” says Dave Close, Extension Master Gardener Coordinator. “We’re also excited about the venue we’ve chosen and the different speakers we’ll have access to as well.”
Holding Master Gardener College in Norfolk offers new opportunities for tours, workshops, and educational speakers who have never been featured at Master Gardener College before.
“We’re very happy about some of the new things we’ll be able to offer,” says John Freeborn, Assistant Extension Master Gardener Coordinator. “We’ve just confirmed Carl Hershner, Director of the Center for Coastal Resources Management at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), and Bryce Lane, Lecturer in Horticultural Science at NC State, as keynote speakers. We are also in conversations to organize tours and workshops to some of the interesting landmarks in Norfolk.”
“We will also be offering water steward training at 2019 College, so that gives us an amazing opportunity to take advantage of some of the interesting water-related speakers in Norfolk and we’ll have a chance to see some active Water Steward programs,” says Freeborn.
Master Gardeners attending college in 2019 will also be able to take advantage of the attractions, dining, and recreation opportunities located near The Main, including the Norfolk Botanical Garden, Town Point Park, and Nauticus, a maritime-themed science center and museum. In addition, Virginia Beach is only a 40-minute drive away.
“There’s really so much to do and see in Norfolk, and that’s why we were attracted to this particular venue. It’s right in the downtown, within walking distance of the waterfront, and it offers access to interesting things outside of College,” says Freeborn.
“Moving College off the Virginia Tech campus is something volunteers have asked about for years, and it’s taken a lot of planning and work to finally be able to make that a reality,” adds Close. “This is also an exciting learning opportunity for us to see how we might take College to different venues in Virginia in the future, including in 2021 when we host International Master Gardener College.”
International Master Gardener College is a large-scale version of state college that moves to a new location each year and attracts Master Gardeners from around the country–and world. Virginia is scheduled to host the event in 2021 at the same Norfolk location as 2019 state College.
“We’re hoping that this year’s College will draw volunteers who haven’t been able to travel to Blacksburg for previous Colleges. We’re working on planning a whole new set of tours and workshops, and we’ve got access to a lot of different speakers, so there’s a lot to be excited about,” says Freeborn.
Master Gardener College 2019 will be held from September 19-22, 2019 at Hilton Norfolk The Main, 100 E Main St, Norfolk, VA 23510. Updates and additional information regarding college will be sent out as they become available, and registration for College will open this spring. Check the biweekly update and your email for updates. ■