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Get Training, Get Planting at Special Community Meeting
Missouri Ag Connection - 03/09/2018

Leaders and volunteers in the city of Ash Grove listed community beautification as an important need this past fall. One member of University of Missouri Extension's leadership program known as EXCCEL was listening.

She is now taking action and inviting community members to get trained and get planting.

Katie Keith, director of the Springfield Botanical Gardens, will host a garden cleanup party and roundtable discussion about garden adopters for Ash Grove starting at 10 a.m. on March 17 at the Barham House in the Ash Grove City Park.

Advance registration is not needed but persons interested in the program - which is part training, part volunteering and part planning - may contact Keith by email at

"There is no city budget for the effort right now and no landscape staff. However, attractive signage and some lighting make these areas especially visible, so keeping them attractive with plantings is important," said Keith.

She plans to use her experience in volunteer coordination to develop a core group of community volunteers and leaders to adopt city garden spots like those at the city welcome signs and the "community triangle" on Maple Street.

But, interested volunteers are needed.

"Community pride is important. We need to find enough willing and able bodies to adopt the gardens. The most difficult tasks will be setting the volunteers up for success with healthy plants and landscape materials and keeping them interested through the season," said Keith.

In exchange for labor and leadership, volunteers will receive training in horticulture topics.

"During some of our community meetings, the Mayor of Ash Grove identified several community planters and landscapes that require permanent care and needed attention from community volunteers," said David Burton, county program director for Greene County MU Extension and a 1984 graduate of Ash Grove. "Several students in this leadership class are developing projects designed to benefit Ash Grove in the long run. It is now time for community members to step up and join in the fun."

This training party of Keith's leadership project she has designed and organized as part of her enrollment in MU Extension's EXCCEL leadership class.

For more information about EXCCEL in western Greene County, including getting registered for the summer orientation meeting, go online to The program for 2018-2019 begins in August and classes will be held monthly on Tuesday nights with option lunch and learning sessions held at noon each month.

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