Natalie Bumgarner, Assistant Professor in Plant Sciences and UT Extension Specialist, Wins Four Awards

Picture of award winner Natalie Bumgarner with UTIA leaders

Natalie Bumgarner, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and UT Extension coordinator for the statewide Master Gardener program, is the winner of four of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture awards – believed to be a modern-day record for the Institute.​ From left to right: Michael Buschermohle, interim assistant dean of UT Extension; Natalie Bumgarner, Department of Plant Sciences; and Tim Cross, UT Institute of Agriculture senior vice president and senior vice chancellor. Photo by T. Salvador, courtesy UTIA. Download image​


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – She jokes that she gardens at home in the dark because, “My landscape is not up to my own horticultural standards quite yet.”

Granted those standards are pretty high for Natalie Bumgarner. She’s an assistant professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and UT Extension coordinator for the statewide Master Gardener program. She’s also the winner of four of the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture awards – believed to be a modern-day record for the Institute.

UTIA recognized some of its top faculty, staff, researchers and Extension experts at UTIA’s annual Awards and Promotions Luncheon held on the UTIA campus in Knoxville August 2, 2019. Many of the awards are gifts made possible by past faculty, alumni and friends of the Institute.

Bumgarner was presented the Bill and Ann Hicks New Extension Worker Award – named for the former dean and his wife. She then collected the Extension honor for the J.E. Moss Award for excellence in outreach work, and was recognized with two of the Institute’s Cavender awards, given for top publications. Bumgarner teamed with Craig Harper of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries and Carol Reese with the UT Gardens, Jackson, for the publication
Managing Your Wildlife Around Your Home, a guide to attract birds and other pretty creatures to your yard, and perhaps keep a few unsavory animals away. Bumgarner also teamed with Reese for The Tennessee Master Gardener Handbook. This large guide includes details about garden management, soil and plant science, plant diseases and designing the home landscape.

“I’m certainly honored to be recognized, and especially grateful for the collaborations that are woven throughout these efforts,” Bumgarner says. “The opportunity to engage with great colleagues across the state is rewarding because it expands our connection with stakeholders and our value to Tennessee. Those collaborations are what makes Extension outreach vibrant and fun, and keeps me excited about the future.” 

Bumgarner has created a bright future for the Master Gardener program, more than 2,500 volunteers statewide who perform community beautification projects and grow food for the needy.

You’ve heard the term “citizen scientist?” Bumgarner also leads a vegetable variety trials program in the gardens of homeowners to gauge how certain types of foods grow in different parts of Tennessee.

Six hundred people surveyed, and the results are in. A top ten list that grows on you. Bumgarner also teamed with a colleague to compile the top ten plants that have impacted Tennessee. The list includes everything from row crops to trees to kudzu.

Bumgarner also traveled this July to Botswana to establish partnerships with Botswana University and gardening programs in the African nation.

“If you look in the dictionary for the words ‘achiever’ and ‘busy,’ you’ll find Natalie’s picture,” says Tim Cross, 
UT Institute of Agriculture senior vice president and senior vice chancellor. “She’s certainly one of our best.”

Cross hosted the award winners and praised them for their work. “The faculty and staff of the UT Institute of Agriculture are known on campus and throughout the state as dedicated, hard-working and knowledgeable experts who provide real-life solutions to challenging issues every day,” said Cross. “The awards presented at this ceremony recognize excellence in research, education, Extension outreach as well as service programs that benefit our stakeholders. They serve as our way to express our gratitude for a job well done.”

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.
ag.tennessee.edu.

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Contacts: 

Charles Denney, UTIA Marketing and Communications, 865-382-8058,
cmdenney@utk.edu

Natalie Bumgarner, Department of Plant Sciences, 865-974-7308.
nbumgarn@utk.edu