After retiring as a kindergarten teacher in the Toledo Public School system, Judy Hanes knew she wanted to combine her passion for working with children and her love of gardening. She enrolled in the Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program offered through The Ohio State University local county Extension office and promptly returned as a volunteer to Hawkins Elementary School where she spent so many years in the classroom. Judy created a garden outside the school doors which has turned into an outdoor classroom and garden club with Hawkins students.
“Judy is an excellent example of a volunteer, making a difference in the community and involving others in the process,” said Amy Stone, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources in Lucas County.
Judy’s work with the garden club has earned her one of five awards presented to volunteers by ServeOhio, Ohio’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, along with their Stewards of Service corporate partners Honda of America MFG., Inc. and American Electric Power Foundation. As an award recipient, Judy received a cash award of $1,000 to support the organization of her choice – of course she chose the Hawkins Garden Club.
“ServeOhio recognizes that volunteerism and service improves lives in Ohio every minute of every day,” Executive Director William Hall said. “We are honored to celebrate the impact of everyday citizens who reach beyond themselves to help their neighbors and communities – shaping who we are as individuals and a state.”
The Hawkins Garden Club meets monthly during the school year and weekly during the summer to plan and maintain the garden. Judy invites community partners and leaders to meet with the students to engage them in educational programming. All youth in the garden club take the harvest home to enjoy with their families which, for most families, is their primary source of produce during the summer. Judy has volunteered over 550 hours for the garden club and recruited other volunteers who gave over 300 hours of service. From seeds to plants and youth to adults – Judy’s garden club is growing both produce and people.