By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Robin Friedman: One Master Gardener is the cream of the crop this year
Placeholder Image

This week’s column is dedicated to one of Hall County Master Gardeners, and we are quite proud of his significant conservation efforts.

To recognize his contributions, Ken Slater was recognized by Green Alliance as Volunteer of the Year on Feb. 5.

Kenneth Slater received such an acknowledgement because his donations of personal hours to support environmental conservation in Hall County are unmatched. During the past five years, Slater has contributed between 800 and 1,000 hours each year as supervisor of Linwood Nature Preserve for the Redbud Project. His sole motivation is to promote awareness of Hall County’s exceptional natural resources and to create a replicable model for environmental conservation.

Thanks to his untiring efforts, the pristine model for green space conservation opened Oct. 30, for the public recreation and education in nature and to demonstrate ecological methods for sustainable economic development of Hall County. 

During the development of the Preserve, he used his exceptional management skills and sweat of his own brow to solicit professional services of architects, contractors and engineers for the project. He also coordinated volunteer labor to develop the Preserve for Gainesville Parks and Recreation.

With his leadership skills, he marshaled resources to build bridges, viewing decks and boardwalks; build kiosks for educational exhibits; and supervise grading and native plant landscaping. It was all to enhance the 32-acre urban forest for public access. He coordinated the building of rain gardens to demonstrate green infrastructure for sustainable development and the construction of permeable paving to control storm water and soil erosion control through wetlands into Lake Lanier.

During the past five years, Slater has far exceeded 4,000 to 5,000 hours of volunteer work to keep Hall County green.

“Mr. Slater has been a vital part of the development of the Linwood Nature Preserve from its beginning and truly deserves the Hall County Green Alliance Volunteer of the Year Award,” said Jeff Morrison of Gainesville Recreation and Parks. “They should name it the ‘workhorse’ award in his honor.

“I’ve witnessed Ken’s careful planning, skills and hard labor on projects such as the observation decks, bridges and information kiosks,” Morrison continued. “These amenities will be enjoyed by our citizens for years to come. Ken has been a pleasure to work with and I am honored to know him.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “The only gift is a portion of thyself.”

In that brief sentence, he captured the essence of volunteerism. Slater embodies it.

Gainesville Recreation and Park Council director Melvin Cooper agrees,

“Ken, you have continually stepped outside the routine of your normal life to make a difference in your community,” he said. “You are passionate about your community and have dedicated much of your life to improving the quality of life in the Gainesville community.”

And I want to personally congratulate Slater on his accomplishments and tenacity to “get the job done.” Through his dedicated spirit, he has been championed a significant vision into a reality. Thank you, Ken.

Robin Lynn Friedman is the Master Gardener coordinator for the Hall County Extension Office. She can be reached at or 770-535-8293.