Sussex Master Gardeners recognized at 4-H celebration

October 2, 2017

Sussex County 4-H held its annual achievement event Sept. 23. More than 190 4-H members and their families attended the ceremony which featured a 4-H Rocks 50s theme. A variety of awards was presented to youth and volunteers in recognition of their time and commitment to the Sussex 4-H program.

Sussex County Master Gardeners received the Friend of 4-H Award, which recognizes businesses, organizations and individuals that promote youth development and help Sussex 4-H attain its goals and objectives. The Master Gardeners are volunteers in the cooperative extension lawn and garden program area. They have a love for gardening and strive to educate others in the community through a variety of outreach activities.

For the past several years, Sussex Master Gardeners’ award-winning puppet show "The Misadventures of Peter Rabbit in Farmer McGregor's Garden " has delighted thousands of Delaware schoolchildren as it educates them about fruits and vegetables. The production is a staple of 4-H's Hopkins Farm Tour for many years and this summer, Master Gardeners reprised the show at Sussex County 4-H garden day camp in Georgetown.

Jill Jackson, Sussex County 4-H agent, noted that the Master Gardeners help with judging county window displays, and serve many hours as judges each year at the Delaware State Fair.

The Joy Sparks Award is given in memory of Joy G. Sparks, a past state 4-H program leader. Sparks was a lifelong Delaware 4-H member who embodied what it meant to be a 4-Her and used her Head, Heart, Hands and Health to better herself and her community. Award recipients are selected based on their contributions to the 4-H program and keeping alive Sparks' spirit of 4-H.

This year's winner is Gail Tipton of Laurel. Tipton's 15-year involvement and dedication as a volunteer 4-H leader were noted. As a volunteer, Tipton served in many roles such as co-chairing numerous committees including Clothing Showcase and the Spaghetti Dinner and Auction. Tipton is a member of the Sussex County Order of Links, a 4-H alumni organization, which she has helped with many events. She has been an active member of the Sussex Leaders' Association, where she currently serves as president.

Tipton revived sewing workshops in Sussex County. Working with other leaders, she helped develop beginner sewing classes and lessons. She has also been the monitor during the foods judging contest where she helps keep members organized and on task. This past year, she led 4-H's foods judging team training prior to the Delaware State Fair and did a fantastic job preparing members who placed first and second in the state.

Jackson said, "Gail is always willing to lend a hand and has a lot of great ideas and input. There is little doubt that Gail will continue to inspire To Make the Best Better."

To view all of the award winners, go to