President’s Message


 “Youth Lead the Way”

Thank you for the distinct honor to serve as your 2015-2017 GCNJ State President. I am passionate about Garden Club and so look forward to meeting many of you as I travel across our beautiful Garden State to witness the wonderful work of our clubs.

Barbara Mullin has served so very honorably these past two years with her kindness, hard work and the ability to add new talent to the GCNJ Board. Thank you, Barbara for serving the GCNJ with grace. Also, thank you to Barbara’s Board for their dedicated service to our organization.

Now, down to business with the how you and your clubs will be served during the next 2 years. There are three key objectives of this presidency: Making connections with youth, developing leadership and by doing both of these objectives, building and strengthening our GCNJ’s membership.

“YOUTH LEAD THE WAY” is my presidential theme. Consider connecting your garden club members with youth in a variety of creative ways: Team up with Master Gardeners and or teachers in your community’s schools with the “Seeds to Salad” program, butterfly or native garden projects. Suggest that your club members assist as mentors to teach Boy Scout & Girl Scout Gardening badges. Contact Bob Markey, our GCNJ Youth Chair and participate in his fabulous Zucchini Race and mentor Youth to grow plants, create floral designs and artistic crafts for our State Standard Flower show in February.  NGC has many opportunities for youth contests. Please……sponsor, mentor, and connect.

This President with my Youth Team will work toward partnering with YMCAs to develop and create YMCA youth gardens that grow not only vegetables and flowers but will nurture future gardeners. Our Membership will be enhanced with this liaison.

Also, A Youth Conference is on the horizon, co-sponsored with Rutgers Gardens and in alliance with other gardening organizations. We all grow if we plant side-by-side.

A Leadership Workshop, “Pathway to Success” will be held at Rutgers Gardens on September 11th this year. This leadership workshop will provide our club members with better tools to develop effective leadership. This program will provide stronger clubs with members who want to lead and can lead well. This Leadership Conference is open to all, not just club Presidents (whom we will honor). Registration information is on our GCNJ website.

We will offer new educational hands-on workshops partnered with Rutgers Gardens featuring various gardening topics that your club members can attend and then, in turn, teach to your garden club members. Potential topics include seed starting, bulb planting, and container workshops. Endless possibilities!

The Annual Meeting was a great success this year and a big shout out to Joan Lippi and her excellent team for a job well done. And a huge applause to New Jersey’s own Deirdre Gross for her excellent design program. What a great day it was for the Garden Club of New Jersey with Sandra H. Robinson, NGC President honoring us with her presence. Sandy’s theme “Leap into Action!” is exciting and promises more backyard habitat protection and leadership development.

Garden club enriches our lives in so many ways. Gardening educates, beautifies, and broadens our horizons with friends and colleagues who share our love of all things nature. Please make sure the Garden Club legacy continues by bringing youth to our table. By engaging with the next generation, we continue our heritage to making gardening an essential part of their lives. I and the new 2015-2017 GCNJ Board so look forward to serving you, your garden club and the GCNJ for the next two years.  Thank you for this privilege.


Susan O’Donnell, President
Garden Club of New Jersey