About the State MG Office

The State Master Gardener Coordinator’s Office is here to assist local VCE-MG programs with administration, training resources, and more.

Our office is housed within the CALS Department of Horticulture on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.  


 

Meet the Staff

State Master Gardener Coordinator

Dave CloseDave Close

M.S. Southern Illinois University, 1996

B.S. Cumberland College, 1993

Background: Urban Forestry and Forest Ecology

Extension Areas: Dave has worked with the Extension Master Gardener program for more than 11 years. Prior to coming to Virginia, he was the Community Forestry Coordinator for the southern 36 counties in Illinois, a role he filled for nearly seven years. He was also an instructor in the Department of Forestry at Southern Illinois University where he taught classes in tree identification, forest ecology, forest ecosystems, and urban forestry. After leaving Illinois and taking on his role as the State Coordinator for the Extension Master Gardener Program, his interests have evolved into volunteer management and leadership development of volunteers. He also works closely with Extension Agents statewide and the Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association.

Contact: dclose@vt.edu

 


Assistant State Master Gardener Coordinator 

John FreebornJohn Freeborn

M.S. Virginia Tech, 2000

B.S. Virginia Tech, 1998

Background: Turf, Greenhouse Production, and Soil Science

Extension Areas: John has worked with Extension in West Virginia and Virgina for more than 10 years. After serving as Extension Agent for Agriculture in West Virginia, John joined the research side of things on the Virginia Tech Campus. He managed several research greenhouses for Dr. Joyce Latimer and Dr. Holly Scoggins, investigating floriculture topics such as plant growth regulators, overwintering survival, and nutrient deficiencies in a number of herbaceous perennials. John then joined the Extension Master Gardener (EMG) Program and serves as the first line resource for Agents, Coordinators, and Extension Master Gardeners across the state. His focus is on customer service and updating EMG materials statewide. He sees the State Office as a resource for all, and looks forward to sharing information about EMG projects from across the Commonwealth!

Contact: jfreebor@vt.edu

 


Additional Staff

Sue Edwards

M.S. UNC-Wilmington, 2001

B.S. Penn State University, 1998

Background: Water Quality, Turf, Soil Science, Nutrient Management, Local Master Gardener Program Coordination

Extension Areas: Before joining the State EMG Office, Sue worked for 10 years at the local level with Virginia Cooperative Extension. As an ANR Technician and local EMG Coordinator, Sue became very familiar with the daily ins and outs of the Master Gardener program.  Sue is also a DCR certified nutrient management planner and wrote over 350 nutrient management reports annually for the local VCE turf nutrient management program.  In her current role as Master Gardener Program Developer, Sue works in collaboration with agents across the state and other State EMG staff to create and edit documents and training materials for the Master Gardener program. She also creates and maintains pages for the State EMG website and assists with Master Gardener College preparation.

Contact: suedward@vt.edu

 



Gabrielle Sanderson

Gabrielle Sanderson

Student at Virginia Tech

Background: English Pre-Law / Environmental Policies and Planning

Extension Areas: Gabrielle has been volunteering with the Extension Master Gardener program in Henrico County since 2008. She participated in various volunteer opportunities that include the Junior Master Gardener booth at the State Fair of Virginia, the Junior Master Gardener Booth at other events, helped to prepare for 4H camp, and assisted with nutrition food programs in elementary schools around Henrico County. She was also a judge for the 4H Regional Talent Show in North Carolina and started working at the Virginia State Extension Master Gardener Office in 2015. As the Program Support and Implementation Assistant, Gabrielle is responsible for completing edits on projects, sending out certificates and pins to counties, and updating the social media networks.

Contact: sgabri17@vt.edu


Riley Sixta

B.S. Virginia Tech, 2014

Background: Industrial Design and Apparel, Housing, Resource Management

Extension Areas:  As the EMG Communications Project Manager, Riley is responsible for managing the publication process for program-related publications in support of the Extension Master Gardener program in Virginia. She is also responsible for developing and implementing a marketing strategy in support of the EMG program and provides administrative support in the office on an as-needed basis.

Contact: rileys9@vt.edu