Gardening is a hobby for many people, but for others it's a livelihood. It is a way for humans to harness the gifts of nature while supporting themselves and others.
For Howland resident Jackie Mills, gardening is mixture of necessity and beauty.
And up until her recent mission trip in Ecuador, most of Mill's community work has been local.
Photo special to Howland Community News
Jackie Mills digs a hole for planting in the highlands of Ecuador.
Mills was one of 16 Ohio State University Extension Master Gardeners to visit the highlands of Ecuador in an effort to educate the natives and facilitate gardening techniques.
The Master Gardeners made the mission trip as part of the Tandana Foundation, a non-profit founded by Anna Taft, daughter of former Ohio Governor Bob Taft.
The members spent their time helping the natives plant various trees, vegetables and flowers. They also gave lessons to school kids, teaching them to make homemade hanging baskets out of plastic soda bottles and other serviceable information about plants.
Overall, 500 various plantings were finished by the group to the tune of 436 combined hours of labor. The volunteer effort made by these members roughly saved the natives almost two months of work and put them in a great position for future gardening.
The trip was just as much a learning experience for the Master Gardeners as it was for the natives, however. Mills said she learned so much about the Ecuadorian culture and how hard they work, but also how very kind they are. Their intent with the mission trip was primarily to help with the community gardens but to also "build relationships and show we care," said Mills.
For Mills, gardening has always been a part of her life, and it just made sense to join a group that helped spread that knowledge to others, which is why she joined the Ohio State Extension Master Gardeners.
"My family has always gardened, and because of that, I've always been interested in gardening," Mills said.
With a title like Master Gardener, one would think it could take years to achieve a status like that, but luckily, members of the community can become certified by taking the class at an Ohio State University Extension campus.
For any interested participants, Mills said the Ohio State Extension campus in Trumbull County offers the class. She encourages Trumbull County residents who are avid gardeners to consider the program, as it is beneficial for both people and the environment.