Featuring Mimi Cox: A County 76 Treasure
This month we feature Mimi Cox, a much beloved Arkansas Master Gardener. Janet Carson describes Mimi as “an integral part of the success of the AR MG program, serving for many years on our original ten-member advisory board and continuing on in the new format when we changed to an open statewide membership of County 76.” Linda Soffer characterizes Mimi as “the epitome of mentorship. M – e – n – t – o – r spells Mimi Cox.” Jane Burrow says, “Mimi Cox is one of those amazing folks who makes an immediate impact on those with whom she comes in contact.”
I grew up in the beautiful Southern town of Laurel in south Mississippi and enjoyed a wonderful childhood with parents, sister, brother, grandparents, and extended family. I loved going to school, Girl Scouts, band, piano, church, and summer vacations with family and friends. Helping out was part of our family life, and gardening came with the territory. Both of my grandmothers and my mother had green “hands” (not thumbs). In fact, I have a “sweetheart” rose from a cutting that one grandmother brought with her from North Carolina to Mississippi more than 100 years ago. We all learned how to plant and how to weed. One of the joys of gardening for me is sharing plants with and from others. That makes a memory garden special.
I went to Ole Miss, where I met my husband Bill on a blind date – that was 55 years ago! I graduated in three years, we got married, and I taught school in Oxford while he finished pharmacy school. Then we moved to Jonesboro, where he became part of the family drug business, and I enjoyed getting involved in my new home and town. Joining a church and a garden club were early choices in Arkansas. Both afforded opportunities for volunteering, and that area of my life definitely expanded as our daughter and son grew up – Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, PTA, band, choir. I worked as church youth director during the years our children were in grade school, junior high, and high school. What fun! Our children are both married, and we have five fabulous grandchildren – proud of all of them.
When the Master Gardener program was organized in Craighead County, I was excited to be in the first class. We had some interesting adventures as we learned to be volunteers for Extension and make an impact on our community through our projects and education. This year will be my 20th year in CCMG, and I have had a great time digging and weeding, planting and seeding in the gardens. One of the highlights each year is welcoming new Master Gardeners and encouraging them to get involved and enjoy the program.
Another Master Gardener opportunity to volunteer came with the development of County 76. It has been a gratifying experience to see how far we have come in just over 10 years. The level of talent and commitment, the wealth of ideas and creativity, and the willingness and dedication to build an even stronger statewide Master Gardener program are outstanding qualities of our members. One of the best experiences in County 76 is getting to know Master Gardeners from all areas of the state and sharing time with them as we work and learn together. I treasure these friendships and am grateful for each one.
It is fun to look back and see the progress of County 76, but it is also exciting to look forward and hope for more members who will step up and accept responsibilities on the state level; for more counties to become involved; for our projects to continue to expand; and for County 76 to become a resource to strengthen and support the Master Gardener programs on the county level. I am confident that it will happen!
Adds Janet Carson: “Mimi also works tirelessly for her own county program in Craighead County. She is a mentor, a leader, a friend and a voice of calm, always willing to go the extra mile. Whether it is leading a monthly meeting, mentoring a new county program, or helping sell garden tools, Mimi gives 100%. Thank you Mimi.” Adds Linda Soffer: “Mimi is passionate about the Arkansas Master Gardener program, willingly sharing her time, knowledge, and skills. A great communicator, Mimi is a caring, enthusiastic coach for all Master Gardeners.” Adds Jane Burrow: “Mimi is a caring, compassionate individual who encourages others in Master Gardener pursuits and in life. She exemplifies what it means to be a team player; she is a hard worker, a teacher, dependable and organized. She has traveled to Little Rock for many years to participate in County 76 meetings and provides a vital leadership role in the statewide Master Gardener program through her tireless hours of work and through the mentorship of others to become leaders at the state and local level. THANK YOU, Mimi, for your friendship, leadership and support.”