For the difference he makes in “the fabric of life for South County residents,” Bay Gardener Frank Gouin was honored this week with the Southern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce’s annual Gene Hall Community Service Award.
“He’s done so much for the community in so many levels,” says Chamber board member John Hiser, last year’s Hall award winner.
“He runs the South County Concert Association, gives Christmas trees for almost nothing to Boy Scouts who resell them for upward of $25, donates the tree for the center of the traffic circle in Deale. He’s always doing something,” Hiser said.
“When the veterans at Charlotte Hall said they could use a poker table, he made them one and then a train layout. When a young man whose scholarship I sponsored needed more help to go to welding school, he rolled up his sleeves and called in favors. Those are just some of the things. I could go on and on,” Hiser said.
Three decades of teaching at University of Maryland wasn’t enough for the PhD horticulturist, so he created Maryland’s flourishing Master Gardener program.
Retirement has only made him more creative in finding ways to reach and teach new audiences. As well as writing his eight-year-old Bay Gardener column for Bay Weekly, he writes a gardening column for the Annapolis Horticulture Society, which compiled his columns into a book, Gardening Through the Seasons.
Garden clubs throughout the state and nation know him as a wise and entertaining speaker. There’s never a charge for his time and knowledge. If you choose to pay him, as Bay Weekly does, all money goes directly to the Francis R. Gouin Undergraduate Research Grant at the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland.
For a cause he believes in, there’s little Dr. Gouin won’t do. To help his civic organization, the Lothian Ruritans, fund scholarships for high school seniors, improve the lives of retired veterans or sustain a clean environment, he’ll cook gallons of spaghetti sauce for the March fundraising dinner, burn burgers to sell at Greenstreet Garden’s Octoberfest, drive his tractor in July 4 parades, pick up trash. No job’s too taxing — except handling citrus, to which he’s allergic, in the annual December sale.
That one deviation, we think, doesn’t spoil his reputation.
Congratulations, Dr. G.