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A Force for Good
As has been recognized for years, any number of persons, organized and dedicated - whether 40 or 40,000 or 400,000 - compose a force to be reckoned with.
And "strong force" is a proper description for the members of the 8,488 clubs that constitute the National Council of State Garden Clubs, Inc., the largest organized group of gardeners in the world.
While their interests and backgrounds are as diverse as their numbers, these garden club members from every state in the nation and the national capital area, numbering well over 264,440 show their strength in many areas.
They are strong in their love of gardening.
They are strong in their interest in their communities.
They are strong in their concern for the environment.
They are strong in their desire to preserve, conserve and enhance natural resources.
They are strong in their pride of heritage.
They are strong in their belief that today's youth, with guidance and encouragement, will become tomorrow's protectors of the environment.
They are strong in their conviction that through their combined efforts they can, and will accomplish their goals.
This dedication and strength arise from one of the most closely-knit organizations in the world -National Council of State Garden Clubs, Inc. (NCSGC).
Since its beginning in 1929, NCSGC has grown from 13 charter state federations to a membership representing every state in the union and the national capital area. The NCSGC is organized on state and regional levels, with the clubs having complete freedom and flexibility in their activities. In addition to the state garden clubs, there are Junior Ecoteers, Intermediate and High School Ecoteens. There are 39 National Affiliates and 197 International Affiliates. The international members are important as NCSGC expands to become a global organization. National officers and committee chairmen provide leadership and ideas for the clubs. Members are given the choice of a large number of projects involving conservation, horticulture, beautification, landscape design, preservation, restoration and education.
In keeping with the philosophy on which the organization was founded, clubs - whether large or small, urban or rural - are concerned with community beautification, roadside development, good horticulture practice, litter control, environmental action, education of youth and the restoration and preservation of historic sites. Through its member services NCSGC provides member clubs a vast array of well documented material covering these subjects. Slides, videos, pamphlets and program ideas are available for a small fee. Books on various types of gardening, the environment, flower arranging and flower shows, landscape design, birds, butterflies, wildflowers and other related subjects are offered at discount to members.
Through the Council's official publication, THE NATIONAL GARDENER, members are provided information concerning the actions of the organization and well-written articles on subjects relevant to its aims.
The objectives established by the founders have been retained, and as with any alive, ongoing organization in a changing world, new concepts are constantly being put forth as objectives broaden.
Members of a group with "Garden Club" as a part of its name are obviously devoted to the pursuit of growing plants, flowers, shrubs, trees, fruits, vegetables and the landscaping of their home grounds and are concerned with the environment that affects them. Specific information on methods of growing trees, indoor gardening, improved cultivars, hydroponic and organic gardening is available from chairmen who are specialists in these fields.
Gardening Study Courses are offered to members to expand their knowledge of growing plants. The highest academic standards are maintained in this program with the curriculum emphasizing how to attain optimum plant growth.
Through Landscape Design Courses members have the opportunity to gain knowledge in home landscaping, as well as good land use planning and community involvement.
Flower Show Schools are designed to interest and guide members in growing and showing beautiful horticulture specimens in flower shows and in their home grounds, as well as train them in the use of these specimens in creating floral designs. Flower shows perform an important community service by providing the public an opportunity to see and appreciate natural and artistically created beauty.
The curricula in Flower Show Schools and Landscape Design Study Courses are constantly updated. Bilingual courses are now offered in both, and a number of Flower Show Schools have been held in Central and South America, Panama and Mexico. By request, Landscape Design Study Courses are being made available to International Affiliates.
Design Study Units instruct the beginner in basic flower arranging skills.
Environmental Studies Schools, "The Living Earth", teach participants environmental literacy, appreciation of the natural world and encourage actions for sustainable development.
Environmental concern recognizes the interrelationship of all natural things. Particular emphasis is presently placed on land conservation, water conservation and air quality.
Leadership training conducted at environmental workshops and energy awareness conferences provide a framework of trained personnel whose purpose is to motivate others to become involved in environmental issues.
Studies are pursued in such fields as energy resources and waste management, with presentations by government officials, environmental groups and energy corporations. With a comprehensive understanding of the issues, members become better prepared to institute and participate in community programs affecting the environment.
Members are also kept informed on legislation pending at local, state and national levels, particularly as it affects land use, waste management, water and air pollution, renewable resources and similar areas of concern.
Working with youth groups of all ages is a vital program widely sponsored by clubs throughout the organization. Clubs also cooperate with local schools, providing teaching material on nature study and environmental education.
Nationally sponsored speech and essay contests are conducted annually at the high school level; children from kindergarten through the fifth grade may enter the annual Smokey Bear/Woodsy Owl poster contest, jointly sponsored by National Council and the U. S. Forest Service Department.
A scholarship fund makes it possible to offer scholarships to qualified students in specified fields. In addition to those provided by the national organization, hundreds of worthy students are being assisted through scholarships given by the state organizations.
Through the civic development committee, member clubs are encouraged to develop projects in their communities that change liabilities into assets and to influence citizens and agencies to cooperate in these efforts.
The memorial garden program, for instance, encourages the planting of gardens to honor persons, commemorate events and designate sites of significance in the community. These gardens present areas of beauty exhibiting good landscape design and horticulture practices.
Protection and conservation of natural resources have been one of the stated objectives of NCSGC from the beginning. Guidelines have been formulated to assist clubs in understanding the expanded role of conservation, and they present ideas for educational enrichment and environmental action.
An active, ongoing conservation project is the Land Trust program. Through this program thousands of acres of irreplaceable ecosystems, which would otherwise be lost, have been preserved for future generations.
Land Trust projects include protection of wetlands, flood plains, prime agricultural lands, open space, endangered species, historic prairies, virgin timber, streams and other areas that will henceforth be safeguarded.
Efforts in the area of world gardening are felt around the world. Among the many projects are contributions made to organizations that are designed to handle the complications and problems that arise in establishing programs to assist emerging nations. Among these organizations are CARE, End World Hunger, Filipino Children, Heifer Project International, International Emergency Fund, Madagascar Project, Near East Foundation, Oxfam America, and World's Children. Many states select their own projects such as assistance after a natural disaster. Contributions of money for equipment, seeds, tools and trees demonstrate the concern of garden clubs for their fellow man in many countries around the world.
This concern is also shown in garden therapy projects. Members devote their time, talents and efforts to bring garden-related activities to groups and individuals, young and aged, who are physically, mentally or emotionally ill or disabled. Through the program, aid is given in the rehabilitation and recovery of the disabled.
Of general service to garden club members, as well as the public, are the garden centers established by member clubs to serve as information centers on landscaping and gardening. An added advantage of this program is the interrelationship of club members with persons not otherwise connected with a garden club, working together to solve problems related to their mutual interest in gardening.
The members of NCSGC continue what they have been doing for over half a century - combining their efforts to achieve a better world.
A former president of NCSGC stated; "National Council has a distinguished heritage and its members can take pride in its progress. Each decade has presented new problems, and goals have been expanded to meet the needs of each new era.''
"The greatest resources of NCSGC are its members. Working together, our organization's resources become significant community resources and this 'working togetherness' enables us to meet mutual commitments of service to our community, state and nation."
Truly, members of the National Council of State Garden Club constitute a mighty force for good.
National Council of State Garden Clubs, Inc.
4401 Magnolia Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110-3492
Telephone (314) 776-7574
Fax (314) 776-5108
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