CRESTVIEW — The 16th Annual Okaloosa County Master Gardener Awards honored volunteers who provide free garden and yard advice to Northwest Florida residents.

Master Gardeners undergo a roughly seven-month training and internship program to earn their title. Volunteer work at the Gerald Edmondson County Extension Building on Airport Road in Crestview and at the Master Gardeners' Fort Walton Beach nursery is required.

These experts do much more than help people grow flowers. Their public services include:

●Identifying insects, reptiles and other wildlife

●Assisting residents with home horticultural concerns

●Promoting Florida-friendly gardening and landscaping using native species

●Analyzing soil

●Identifying fungi and invasive pests

●Staffing the County Extension telephones and laboratory

●Advising 4-H programs

The University of Florida’s Okaloosa County extension staffers recognized Master Gardeners’ efforts during Wednesday’s luncheon in Crestview.

2017 officers include Karen Kirk-Williams, president; Dave Gordon, president-elect; Scott Berry, secretary; Joe Jones, treasurer; and Alene Ogle, past president.

Contact the University of Florida Okaloosa County Extension, 689-5850, http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu, or visit the Gerald Edmondson Extension Building, 3098 Airport Road, Crestview, for membership information.

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Editor's Note: A photograph on this page previously stated Margaret Stewart achieved 9,000 community service hours. She actually achieved 5,000 so far.