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Master Gardner Volunteer Profile: Karla Shopoff

Master Gardner Volunteer Profile: Karla Shopoff

Karla Shopoff’s love of horticulture led her to the robust Florida Master Gardner Volunteer Program. Now a retired dietician, her passion for impactful community engagement fuels her enthusiasm for each project.

The Master Gardener program relies on dedicated volunteers interested in gardening and giving back to their communities. With training from University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture (UF/IFAS) Extension, Master Gardener Volunteers offer leadership and guidance in gardening projects of all types and sizes.

“The Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a constant learning opportunity with projects, seminars, field trips and practical experiences,” Shopoff said. “We work to translate that knowledge into Horticulture programs and outreach opportunities for Alachua County residents.”


Community Impact

The Haile Plantation resident is able to see firsthand the positive impact the Master Gardeners have in her own neighborhood.

The Haile Plantation West Homeowners Association requested advice on the revitalization of their Butterfly Garden. Master Garden Volunteers are guiding the HOA on how to supplement the garden with additional larvae host and pollinator plants. The end result will be a beautiful and enjoyable garden for the community. Residents will also have an opportunity to learn about butterfly gardening for their own backyards.

Shopoff says planting pollinator and host plants for bees and butterflies is a special interest of hers and she is grateful to be able to share that knowledge with her neighbors.


Expert Advice

In her own yard, she chooses native plants that thrive well in the area without supplemental irrigation and fertilization. Shopoff has also created a special fairy garden for her grandchildren.

Her favorite plant is the Coreopsis leavenworthii which she said likes full sun. The perennial is a source of nectar and pollen for bees and attracts butterflies. The Florida native plant blooms yellow flowers in the spring, summer and fall.

The Gainesville homeowner tries to encourage wildflower growth on the storm water detention basin that borders her backyard. Through the MGV program, she’s learned plants can help control erosion, and naturally remove pollutants from rainwater runoff.


See Also

She encourages others to follow the nine principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping:

  • Right Plant, Right Place
  • Water Efficiently
  • Fertilize Appropriately
  • Mulch
  • Attract Wildlife
  • Manage Pests Responsibly
  • Recycle Yard Waste
  • Reduce Stormwater Runoff
  • Protect the Waterfront


Become a Master Gardner Volunteer

The Master Gardner Volunteer Program training period is anticipated to run from August 2023 through October 2023. Interns will receive over 60 hours of training, student handbook manual, EDIS publications and reference books. Enrollment in the program is limited and can be highly competitive.

After successful completion of the training, interns are required to volunteer a minimum of 75 hours the first year to achieve Master Gardener Volunteer certification. Thirty-five volunteer hours and 10 continuing education units are required in subsequent years to maintain an active status. Interested applicants can complete a 2023 Interest Form on their website.


By Jennifer Kennedy.

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