SAN BENITO, RGV – The Texas Master Gardener Association has announced its Search for Excellence award winner.

Lori Murray, a Valley Morning Star gardening columnist, won the statewide award. She was selected due to her work in the Valley Morning Star, writing columns on gardening every Sunday. Apart from writing her weekly columns, Murray has chaired the Cameron County Master Gardener Association committee and has conducted writing clinics to her association members, prompting them to contribute articles as well.

“Lori has created quite a following with local readers and our educational events have seen a steady increase in participation due to this dissemination of information to the public,” Cameron County Master Gardener President, Charles A. Malloy, III, said.

“Readers call to report on a gardening situation or a plant they feel we should know about. We have acquired a strong voice to the community via Lori’s gardening articles to the public.”

The Master Gardener Association of Cameron County is a non-profit association that collaborates with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service to improve and expand gardening skills across the region. The partnership provides demonstration gardens, one being The Arboretum, located on the corner of Williams Road and Expressway 77 in San Benito at the County Annex. The garden contains butterfly gardens, a self-sustained compost demonstration, and vegetable gardens. The Arboretum and other demonstration gardens are established and maintained by local volunteers called “Master Gardeners.” Apart from demonstration gardens and workshops, The Master Gardener Association conducts semi-annual plant sales and annual training for incoming members.

“Lori’s articles promote Texas and Cameron County Texas Master Gardener goals,” Malloy said.

“The Master Gardener Association educates communities about local plants, gardening practices, earth-kind gardening principles and encourages environmental friendly practices for landscape design. In addition, they generate awareness of sensitive emerging and environmental issues such as citrus greening and Asian citrus psyllid.”

Murray began writing for the Valley Morning Star four years ago and has since published 200 articles with her team. They submit a 500-word column every week to the newspaper. The columns are written using Aggie Horticulture principles that teach readers about gardening. Malloy added that the columns’ writing style differs so greatly from the rest of the state. Her fellow members have praised Murray for her work on the weekly column.

“It is a labor-intensive activity, but very rewarding and an excellent way for our members to self-educate,” Murray said.

“I want to continue to inspire and encourage more of you to get involved in discovering the benefits of writing about what we feel is important. I’ll help every step of the way.”

Editor’s Note: In the main image accompanying this story, Master Gardener Lori Murray (center) displays a recognition plaque presented by Cameron County Master Gardener President Charles Malloy, III, at a recent ceremony. AgriLife Master Gardener sponsor Jennifer Herrera received a duplicate plaque to display at the AgriLife Extension office.