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Sharna Nicholson & John DiCerbo “Growing Memories”

Two student volunteers from the Cornell Master Gardener program are integrating their skills and project with our residents. They met with our residents on February 7th to include them in the project!

Scientists have confirmed that your sense of smell is closely linked to triggering emotions and memories, probably more so than any of our other senses. The scent of a spice or herb in bloom can conjure up recollections of a childhood picnic, for example.

John & Sharna are currently students in the Cornell Master Gardener program, remember with fondness how their love of gardening began as children. Now retired and both residents of the East End and avid gardeners, they wanted to celebrate their heritage with a project where they could bring memories to the elderly community. Their parents have lived long healthy lives and they believe in ‘giving back’.

Cornell Master Gardener Program - group

A fundamental part of their program is ‘The Action Project”. This requirement serves as a tool for future educational outreach in their role as a Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) peer educator. The project they select should be a rewarding experience that relates to learning and materials covered in class, and is a project that will help fulfill local CCE Suffolk program goals and outcomes (plan of work).

Before sharing the activity with the residents, they tested the soil in the raised beds to ensure that it would be a suitable location. Successful in that step, they next wanted to meet with residents to gauge interest in participation.

Cornell Master Gardener Program - questions

The activity they chose to conduct was a group sharing session with members of the San Simeon Resident Council. They briefly described their project with the participants, and then asked those willing, to share memories of holiday celebrations and special foods and spices or herbs they fondly recall. The volume of participation both surprised and delighted them.

As the weather warms, John and Sharna will solicit plants, seeds and supplies to supplement the project costs. They will also meet with residents that want to be involved in the various stages; identifying herbs to plant, planting bulbs, growing and harvesting. Stay tuned for updates throughout the summer.

Cornell Master Gardener Program - Sharna Nicholson & John DiCerbo
Sharna Nicholson & John DiCerbo of the Cornell Master Gardener Program

Sharna began her career in Education and then evolved into the Business world as a Corporate Trainer, Customer Value Manager, and Independent Business Owner with Mary Kay Inc. She served as a volunteer in several in Rochester, NY and now at San Simeon for two years. As an Educator and Trainer, she loves sharing her expertise with other adults and children.

John has a science/biology/life sciences background and worked for many years in Human Resources and healthcare. He also worked with Eagle Scout projects to enhance, replant and maintain sites at public parks and gardens in Nassau County.

Working in conjunction with the residents, community, San Simeon staff, and other Cornell Master Gardener volunteers, they are most excited about this new undertaking. It is sure to be appreciated and enjoyed by all.

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