Donation will assist aspiring ambassadors
Thanks to the generosity of a former Stillwater resident, Oklahoma State University Botanical Garden Ambassador Program applicants will not feel the financial pinch of entering this volunteer program.
John Gilbreath, who currently lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, has generously donated $2,250, which will provide financial assistance for new OSU Botanical Garden Ambassador Program applicants. He made the donation in memory of his mother, Rachel Beltz, who was a long-time Stillwater resident.
He said he got the idea for providing financial assistance after reading an article about the OSU Botanical Garden Ambassador Program.
"I asked myself what I could do to help encourage people to get out and volunteer," said Gilbreath, who is a Texas Master Gardener as well as owner of So Tex Plants. "If I can help eliminate the financial obligation, all people then have to give is their time."
The Ambassador Program training process consists of 40 hours of instruction and participants are required to pay a $125 fee to cover the cost of materials. Gilbreath's donation will help subsidize this cost. Ambassadors also commit to 40 or more additional hours of volunteer service over the course of a year.
Dale Maronek, head of the department of horticulture and landscape architecture at OSU, said this gift is very beneficial.
"We realize that people are facing hard financial times right now," Maronek said. "The OSU Botanical Garden depends on volunteers to assist with educational programming, help plant and maintain special gardens, assist with tours and other educational efforts. The success of our Botanical Garden depends on our volunteers to a great extent. We can't do it without these Ambassadors and Mr. Gilbreath's generous donation will help us in many ways."
Laura Payne, coordinator of the Ambassador and Garden Volunteer Programs, said training programs will begin Jan. 15, 2010 and will take place each Friday through March 26, 2010.
Ambassadors help staff the horticulture resource center and help with the maintenance of the garden, including planting, designing and weeding.
"Anyone who is interested in applying for the Ambassador Program or the Garden Volunteer Program should submit application materials by Dec. 15," Payne said.
Contact Stephanie Larimer, OSU department of horticulture and landscape architecture, at 405-744-5404, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, for an application form.