Volunteers are the lifeblood for Extension programs such as 4-H and Master Gardener. The recipient of this first-ever Dean’s Award for Outstanding Extension Volunteer goes to Joe Simmons, Master Gardener volunteer.
For many years, the Master Gardener program in the majority of states utilized an electronic volunteer management system created and hosted by the University of California – Davis. In 2019, this system was decommissioned, and it was up to each state to come up with a replacement system.
Enter Maui County Master Gardener Joe Simmons. Starting in May 2020, Joe offered his IT and Master Gardener experience, as well as his leadership ability, as he stepped up to lead the effort for Hawaiʻi to develop its own electronic volunteer management system.
To start the process, Joe reviewed, vetted, and lined up presentations by several software development companies for the Extension horticultural agents. After the preferred vendor was identified, Joe was the point of contact between Hawaiʻi Cooperative Extension and the vendor. Joe continued to be a key member of the development team as the product was pilot tested in stages, and when the final version was rolled out in October 2021. This was a significant project that took 1 ½ years from start to finish. Because of Joe Simmons’ involvement, it was brought to conclusion with a high-quality end product, delivered in a much timelier manner than we could have ever accomplished without him.
It is with a heartfelt and grateful Mahalo that we express our appreciation for volunteer service, above and beyond the call of duty, to Maui County Master Gardener, Joe Simmons.