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The Latest Dirt - Dec 2022

Executive Leadership Team Welcomes New Class

Welcome to the Class of 2023,


As an Executive Leadership Team Member I work with two projects and two projects in waiting.

  • Communications: this project serves as the organizational hub for many of our outreach activities: our website, YouTube channel, social media, The Latest Dirt - our internal newsletter and News to Grow By - our public newsletter. If you like taking photographs, writing articles, filming and editing videos, posting to the blog, organizing email lists, coding web pages, sending e-blasts, etc., we have a job for you!
  • Volunteer Support: this project was recently renamed to describe the myriad of activities performed to make your volunteer experience easier and more productive. Volunteer Support hosts our social events, orders badges and pins, publicizes volunteer opportunities through our Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! newsletter, surveys our volunteers skills & interests, manages our volunteer management system (VMS), communicates with our pool of Honorary Master Gardeners, and more. We need people with a multiplicity of skills and interests. Join us!
  • Recruitment: this is a project in waiting and an independent part of Volunteer Support. Recruitment is in charge of organizing our annual efforts to bring in candidates for positions in our training classes. Soon, even though our existing training class (yours!) hasn’t yet finished, Recruitment members will be meeting to plan our outreach to bring in next year’s candidates to create a pool of volunteers reflective of the diversity of our county’s residents. With your recent experience going through the interview and application process, if you’re interested, you have something to contribute to this process.
  • Jardineros: originally conceived as a Spanish speaking Growing Gardeners, Jardineros continues to evolve in an effort to better provide Spanish language advice to our many Hispanic and Latinx residents, whether directly or through assisting the mission of our other projects. If you speak Spanish, or are interested in this outreach, we would love your help.

Robyn Barker

Welcome to the class of 2023!


I am the Executive Leadership Team project liaison for Our Garden in Walnut Creek, the Rivertown Demonstration Garden in Antioch, and Plant Sales, which is primarily the Great Tomato Plant Sale (GTPS). I encourage you to get involved with any of these three fun and active projects. The gardens are a great way to meet many of the other Contra Costa County Master Gardeners, continue learning, and get your hands dirty. Heavy lifting is not required (though certainly welcome if you feel so inclined). The GTPS is a quarter- long, seeding-to-sales, all hands-on deck, project that last year involved more than 120 volunteers putting in over 4000 hours. There are opportunities for everybody to get involved! Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions as you get started as a UC Master Gardener.

Greg Letts


Greetings Class of 2023,

Bill Miller

I understand the class of 2023 loves acronyms so here are a few for you! How about AAMG, CE, NVT (which you know all too well), and GEMs? As an ELT (Executive Leadership Team) member I am happy to be the liaison to the following vital UC MGs (University of California Master Gardeners!) projects. First, as Ask A Master Gardener(s) (AAMG) we interact with the public at Farmers Markets and one day events. We have great fun answering their questions and learning from other CoCoMGs. This is a great opportunity for you to get involved. We start in April and finish up at the end of October.

You won’t have to worry about it for a while, but our Continuing Education (CE) offerings will keep you updated on major issues and topics germane to all UC Master Gardeners. From reading a book to watching a video to attending a Zoom or in-person lecture, it is a great way (and required…12 hours a year) to stay fresh. New Volunteer Training (NVT) is what you are doing right now but look around and see if there may be ways that you would want to help the next trainee class of 2024.

And finally, there are volunteers who support our General Equipment and Materials (GEMs) efforts. Like to fix stuff? Shlep tables hither and thither? GEMs is for you! So welcome all of you to a wonderful organization that serves our community and makes the earth a better place to be.

Bill Miller

Hello class of 2023 and welcome!


I’m Kirsten Mollo from the class of 2019 and this is my first year on the Executive Leadership Team. Last year I was the co-lead for new volunteer training and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting each topic in the curriculum, learning from our expert instructors (and the class!) and seeing the bonds form between classmates.

I’m the ELT liaison for three projects: Help Desk, Community Gardens and School Gardens. These projects don’t typically have their meetings posted on VMS, so I encourage you to reach out to the leads after their class visit to express your interest and do some shadowing or other activities through the passport program. The number of projects and roles can sometimes feel overwhelming, but everyone in the UC Master Gardener community is so happy to talk about their favorite project and home gardening passion. Once class is over, I also invite you to join our monthly executive committee meeting, where you can get a great overview of what is going on with the projects (both successes and challenges), as well as receive volunteer hours.

Please reach out to me any time with any questions!

Kirsten Mollo

Welcome to the Class of 2023,


It has been very interesting and educational being in close connection with Growing Gardeners, Speakers Bureau, the Richmond Dry Garden and the Water Conservation Garden in El Cerrito. After joining the Executive Leadership Team last year, I was immediately amazed at how many UC Master Gardeners of Contra Costa County were directly or indirectly involved due to the many tasks that needed to be performed to ensure a smooth operation.

Attending the Growing Gardeners course ‘Vegetable Gardening for Beginners’ is often a steppingstone for many Contra Costa residents to become more interested in our outreach program and later decide to join our organization. Both teams from Speakers Bureau (lead by Gail Burt) and Growing Gardeners (lead by Ann Howard & Ann Ramirez) are in need of many UC Master Gardeners in order to complete the educational program successfully, with jobs such as: Hosts for leading the classes and presentations, Educational Instructors and Speakers, Technical Support, Q&A, collaborating with outside organizations, etc. These projects also require many ‘Beneath the Bark’ tasks before, during, and after the course such as scheduling, reviewing course and presentation materials, support for attendees, marketing and keeping track of survey data. I highly encourage you to attend their regular meetings as an observer in case you are interested in these projects. The Speakers Bureau is also in need of a Co-lead for the Per-Request talks and the Garden talks at Our Garden and the Rivertown Demonstration Gardens.

For those who like to get their hands dirty, I can highly recommend visiting the Richmond Dry Garden (led by Brian Kerss & Dan Lent) and the Water Conservation Garden in El Cerrito (led by Liz Rottger and Liv Imset.) Many UC Master Gardeners work in both gardens in West County. After sheet mulching, installing drip and planting many California native plants suited for a dry landscape, the Richmond Dry Garden has established itself into a mature demonstration garden open 24/7 next to the library in Richmond.

For the Water Conservation Garden in El Cerrito, I am very hopeful that it can become its own project someday with public access. This very knowledgeable and super enthusiastic team not only installed several raised beds using the innovative irrigation method of repurposing used water bottles (Plavel), but they are also constantly brainstorming on Fog Harvesting & Rain Water CollectionCatching, the use of Solar Energy and so much more!

Hedwig Van Den Broeck