David Close, consumer horticulture specialist and Virginia Cooperative Extension state master gardener coordinator, has received the 2016 Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Extension is presented annually to two Virginia Cooperative Extension faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to the land-grant mission of the university. One award goes to an Extension specialist and the other is given to an Extension agent. Each award winner receives $2,000.

Since assuming the position in 2004, Close has developed several resources to improve the work the Extension master gardener can accomplish.

He worked directly with the Virginia Master Gardener Association  and the College of Agriculture and LIfe Sciences development office to establish the State Master Gardener Coordinator’s Endowment as a means to solve the persistent lack of stable funding for the state master gardener coordinator position. The endowment has a goal of $1 million and is currently at more than $500,000.

In addition to the endowment, Close created the Master Gardener College Advisory Team and used it to increase attendance at Master Gardener College, an annual state conference, without having to increase staff. The advisory team helped with registration, logistics, and event planning, while still acting as advisors to the attendees.

“The advisory team has made a positive impact on the college program in spite of dwindling financial resources,” wrote George Graine, a Fairfax master gardener. “The improved attendance at the annual state conference is testament to Mr. Close's innovation and creativity.”

“Dave’s commitment to the Master Gardener Program and the mission of VCE is evidenced by his participation and leadership,” wrote Christy Brennan, president of the Virginia Master Gardener Association, in a letter of nomination.

Close received his bachelor’s degree from Cumberland College, master’s degree from Southern Illinois University, and is working toward his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.

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