Stevensville woman to lead state Federated Garden Clubs chapter
STEVENSVILLE — Diana Bonner of Stevensville was installed as president of the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland on Tuesday, March 28, at the organization’s 88th annual meeting in Ellicott City. Federated Garden Clubs of Md. is a member of National Garden Clubs Inc., the largest volunteer gardening organization in the world.
Bonner is a 23-year member of the Kent Island Garden Club, having joined in 1994.
“Moving from San Fransico, I did not have a green thumb,” she said. A neighbor, Lorraine Hulse, invited her to join the club as a learning experience. “I enjoyed it right away. … I loved working on projects in the community.”
Hulse used to joke, “I’ve created a monster” by introducing her to gardening, Bonner said.
Her gardening projects provided a nice release for Bonner in her retirement, after having worked for General Motors for 31 years, she said.
“You can always tell a club member’s yard,” Bonner said with a laugh. “It’s usually the worst in the community” because we’re so busy with other projects.
She doesn’t have a favorite plant or flower; what she likes best changes with the season. Besides, “they may be listening to me,” she said.
Bonner also is a member of the Kent Island Heritage Society and said she loves doing work at the Kirwan House.
Bonner served as first and second vice president of the statewide organization before rising to the president’s position. She has also served as Director of District I, which is comprised of all the federated garden clubs on the Eastern Shore. As a member of Kent Island Garden Club, she served as president for the 1999-2001 term and held other officer positions during her time with the club.
She referred to KI Garden Club as “the little club that could.”
There were more than 360 people in attendance at the recent annual meeting and officer installation. Kent Island club members did the five, huge arrangements for the head table, all with a Maryland color theme, yellow and red with Black Eyed Susans, Bonner said. The other 11 federated garden clubs on the Eastern Shore provided 45 centerpieces.
Bonner is a master flower show judge, a master landscape design consultant, environmental consultant and gardening study consultant. Those are the four schools the national club offers, and Bonner recommends them all.
The National Garden Clubs president’s theme for the next year is “Plant America,” Bonner said, and she has asked all the state clubs to incorporate the planting theme.
“My Theme is ‘Planting Maryland from the Mountains to the Ocean,” Bonner said.
Federated Garden Clubs of Md. includes 94 member clubs with more than 3,500 members. Garden Club members are provided educational opportunities through flower shows, landscape design workshops, and garden and environmental studies.
For outreach activities, members conduct youth gardening and garden therapy activities, establish or renovate Blue Star Memorial Highway and By-Way Markers to honor those who serve or have served in the U.S. armed services. Members also work in collaboration with the State Highway Administration to plant trees along highways.
Part of the group’s agenda is to provide scholarships and grants to students pursuing careers in environmental fields. As her project for her 2017-2019 term, Bonner has selected NorthBay Environmental Camp, an environmental education and character development program for middle schoolers.
NorthBay, in Cecil County, provides residential and in-school environmental education and character development programs to more than 15,000 public middle students each year. The camp’s mission is to challenge middle school students to realize that their attitudes and actions have a lasting impact on their future, the environment and the people around them.
Bonner has firsthand experience with NorthBay, having attended twice as a chaperone with her grandchildren’s sixth-grade classes.
Kent Island Garden Club has recently established a scholarship fund for Matapeake and Stevensville middle schools students who may need financial assistance to attend NorthBay.
For more information about Kent Island Garden Club, contact Rona Warner, membership chairman, 410643-0955.
Diana Bonner of Stevensville is the new president for the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland.