Welcome to the Virginia Master Gardener Association

Our Mission

The mission of the Virginia Master Gardener Association is to foster communication, education and fellowship among Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers.


David Close Honored by Virginia Tech Alumni Association

Dave Close
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.

VMGA Officers, 2016-2018

President - Joe Kelly, Northern VA
BIO: Joe has been a Master Gardener volunteer in the Arlington/Alexandria unit since 2002. He has participated in several unit activities to include work on the Training Committee and as a coordinator of one of the demonstration gardens. He has served on the board of the local association, Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, including two terms as President. Since 2007, he has been unit representative to VMGA and has been on VMGA’s Nominating Committee and Endowment Committee.

Joe has a B.S. in Science Teaching (Biology) from Clemson University. In 2001, he retired from the FBI as a Supervisory Special Agent after a 27-year career. Besides Master Gardeners, he does extensive volunteering with church, Boy Scouts and other organizations.

Joe is married to Susan, who accompanies him to many VMGA meetings. They have one adult son, Andrew.

Vice President - Joan Richards, Green Spring
BIO: She grew up on a dairy farm in western Wisconsin, She had responsibility for the family garden when she was 10 and was a 4-H member with a Gardening Project sponsored by Sears.

As she followed her Army officer husband she gardened in Washington State, California, and Georgia before moving to Virginia in1973. She became a master gardener in the Class of 2006 when she retired from 35 years of teaching. As a MG she has enjoyed working in the Ready, Set, Grow program, a docent for tours of Greenspring Garden, a member of the Speakers Bureau, and working with gardens and Kindergarten students at Belvedere School. She has been the Unit Representative to the Virginia Master Gardener Association since 2007 and has been serving as its secretary since July of 2014.

In her free time she has enjoyed traveling with grandchildren, teaching adults English as a Second Language through the Northern Virginia Literacy Council and working with developmentally disabled through a Jesus Cares Ministry at her church.

Secretary - Wanda Gerard, Suffolk
BIO: I was born and raised in God's Country - Selinsgrove, PA. After serving in the US Army for 22 years (I retired as Sergeant First Class) I worked for the for Department of State as security briefer and Crisis Management Trainer for seven years. Then after getting tired of spending four hours a day commuting to and from work, I quit and took a job closer to where I lived and worked as a Legislative Library Assistant and Tour Guide for the Maryland General Assembly for two years. I moved to Suffolk in 2009 and became a Suffolk Master Gardener in 2010. I served as their President for five years, and am now the MG Coordinator for Suffolk. I am married, have one son, two step children, three step grandchildren. My husband (Jim) and I have three four legged children -- pet collies - Merlin, Lady, and Pony Boy. My parents and generations before them farmed, raised vegetables, and put up food to feed the family until the next harvest - so digging in the dirt and loving nature is in my blood. My husband and I are active members of the Suffolk Nansemond chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, and I am also an Extension Master Food Volunteer. I enjoy being a master gardener and being given the opportunity to serve as the VMGA secretary.

Treasurer - Diane Kean, Northern Neck
BIO: Diane became a EMG in 2009 and joined VMGA that same year. She has been active with several projects within the Northern Neck Master Gardeners: Gardening in the Northern Neck annual seminar, Horticultural Therapy, the Vegetable Garden at the Farm Museum, the Kitchen garden at George Washington’s Birthplace. Diane is in the second year of her two year term as President of the NNMG.