Job Opening: Fairfield County Master Gardener Coordinator

Position Description

UConn Extension Master Gardener Coordinator

Lower Fairfield County

The UConn Extension Master Gardener Program is seeking applications for the position of Master Gardener Program Coordinator for Lower Fairfield County, based at the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford, CT. This is a 16-hour-per-week position and is a temporary, six month appointment.

Renewal is optional pending coordinator review and availability of program funding.

Responsibilities include but are not limited to: provide leadership for the Master Gardener Program in southern Fairfield County. Successful candidate will coordinate staffing of program mentors, volunteers and interns; work with UConn Extension center/county based faculty and staff, as well as university based faculty and staff as needed. Will also need to work with allied community groups and Extension partners such as the CT Master Gardener Association; train and supervise interns when classroom teaching is completed; arrange for and conduct Advanced Master Gardener classes each year; develop and coordinate outreach programs and projects with community organizations in southern Fairfield County, including the Bartlett Arboretum. They will prepare annual reports on program activities, impacts, incomes, outcomes (number of clientele contacts); and communicate effectively with the state coordinator, other county coordinators, and the Bartlett Arboretum staff. Monthly reports shall be communicated to the state coordinator and topical information may be shared with others as requested.

Preference will be given to candidates who are Certified Master Gardeners, or with a degree in horticulture, botany, biology or equivalent experience. Interested applicants should possess strong organizational, communication and interpersonal skills and be able to show initiative. They should be able to demonstrate experience in working collaboratively as well as independently, and be willing to work flexible hours including some evenings and weekends. Must be familiar with Microsoft Office and familiar with the online class experience.

Volunteer experience is desired.

Submit letter of application, resume and names of three references to:
Sarah Bailey, State Extension Master Gardener Coordinator at
Please put Master Gardener Coordinator Position in the subject line.

Screening will begin immediately.

¡Sí Se Puede! Empowering Families with Monica Jimenez

As a child, Monica Jimenez would have fun pretending to be a teacher. In high school, her interests shifted from teaching to law. Soon after beginning law school she realized that path was not for her. She then found her true passion, Special Education. 

Monica JimenezMonica graduated from La Universidad de Azuay in Ecuador with a Bachelor’s in Special Education in 1996. She came to the United States from Ecuador through a cultural exchange program and fell in love with the American culture and her host family. With the help of her host family she was able to become a resident and later obtained U.S. citizenship. In the U.S., Monica obtained her Child Development Associate Credential and started to work as a paraeducator in Stamford Public Schools. Here she spent five years helping and strengthening the academic performance of students in the Bilingual and New Arrivals program. Today, Monica lives in Stamford with her daughter and works as a Parent Educator for Family Centers, a nonprofit organization offering educational, health, and human services to families. 

During her years as a paraeducator, Monica realized how her students struggled with being understood. This motivated Monica to advocate for her students and to help them appreciate their roots and identity. “I need to let the children know that they are important and that they should be proud of their roots, proud of their home, proud of where they come from, proud of their culture, and feel happy that they have the ability to say I speak Spanish, I am currently learning English, and I will be able to learn. You have to remind children that they are capable of anything because they are and at any age” says Monica. 

Monica Jimenez UConn PEP graduationAs a paraeducator, Monica also realized the significance of parent advocacy and involvement in the education of their children. She knew she had to find a way to reach parents in her community as well to further help her students. Wanting to do more for her community, in 2017, Monica joined the UConn People Empowering People (UConn PEP) program in Stamford. UConn PEP is an Extension program in the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources. It is an innovative personal and family development program with a strong community focus. UConn PEP builds on the unique strengths and life experiences of the participants. The program emphasizes the connection between individuals and community action.

Monica’s experience with UConn PEP has been life-changing. It has become the foundation that has helped her express her passion for empowering people. “UConn PEP was the starting point for the job I have now. I learned many tools. It was a mix of what I had already done in the school and UConn PEP gave me the opportunity to learn how to help people and empower them. In my case, especially mothers. It empowered me and now I can do the same for other people” says Monica. 

Monica Jimenez's group zoom meetingA year after graduating from the UConn PEP program, Monica was recruited as a teacher for the Children’s People Empowering People (CPEP) program. Additionally, she also teaches courses for the Children’s Leadership Training Institute (CLTI). She is currently working to become a parent leader in Stamford and will complete her Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI) course in June. Although at times becoming a community leader can be challenging, Monica is glad that through UConn PEP she has learned how to be direct, and how to manage different situations and audiences.

Monica Jimenez selfie with daughterAs a parent educator Monica serves first-time mothers with newborns and children up to five years in age. Through in-person and virtual visits, Monica helps mothers learn about child development, the importance of the parent-child relationship and connects them to available resources in their community. For Monica, having this job is a dream come true. “It is very nice to arrive at the house that is the root. It is where I as the visitor can accompany the mother in the growth of the child and encourage her to do a great job with her children from the very beginning” says Monica. As a single mother herself, Monica understands how difficult raising a child can be. She has always pushed herself to do the best for her daughter and is constantly encouraging her mothers to believe in their own abilities, “I always make sure to tell them sí se puede (yes you can)” says Monica.

When asked why she believed empowering people was important Monica shared, “Empowering people is important because we all have an inner strength. We all have talent and capacity within us, sometimes life circumstances make us forget that. There are some talents that are hidden. There are some talents that are turned off. It has hurt me a lot that my community is not always seen as a community that provides support, but we are people that provide support. In the Hispanic community we support each other, we can contribute a lot, we have double capabilities”.

At the moment Monica is focused on completing her PLTI course and launching her project Helping You Get Started (HUGS). HUGS introduces the school system to new arrival families. Through home visits, Monica hopes to help parents with basic things like how to apply for free/reduced lunch to more complex situations such as how to communicate with teachers. To her, it’s really important that parents realize they have all the authority over any decision made regarding the education of their children. HUGS will bridge the knowledge gap and help parents gain confidence and find their voice. Monica’s second goal is to return to school and start working towards obtaining a Master’s degree in Social Work. With this degree she hopes to be able to serve and empower more populations.

“When you tell your story, many people can relate to it and learn. I hope with my story others think okay I’m in a similar, better, or worse situation and if one person could make it through, I can too,” Monica concludes.


Article by Ivette Lopez


Haga clic aquí para ver en Español.

¡Sí Se Puede! Empoderando Familias con Monica Jimenez

De niña Monica Jimenez jugaba a ser maestra. En la escuela secundaria, sus intereses pasaron de educación a la abogacía. Poco después de comenzar la escuela de leyes, se dio cuenta de que ese camino no era para ella. Luego encontró su verdadera pasión, la Educación Especial.

Monica JimenezEn 1996, Monica se graduó de La Universidad de Azuay en Ecuador con una Licenciatura en Educación Especial. Llegó a Estados Unidos desde Ecuador a través de un programa de intercambio cultural y se enamoró de la cultura estadounidense y de su familia anfitriona. Con la ayuda de su familia anfitriona, pudo convertirse en residente y luego obtuvo la ciudadanía estadounidense. En los EE. UU., Monica obtuvo su Credencial de Asociada en Desarrollo Infantil y comenzó a trabajar como para-educadora en las Escuelas Públicas de Stamford. Allí pasó cinco años ayudando y fortaleciendo académicamente a los estudiantes en el programa Bilingüe y de Recién Llegados. Hoy, Monica vive en Stamford con su hija y trabaja como educadora de padres para “Family Centers”, una organización sin fines de lucro que ofrece servicios educativos, de salud y humanos a las familias.

Durante sus años como para-educadora, Monica se dio cuenta de cómo sus estudiantes luchaban para ser entendidos. Esto motivó a Mónica a advocar por sus estudiantes y ayudarlos a apreciar sus raíces e identidad. “Necesito hacerle saber a los niños que ellos son importantes y que deben estar orgullosos de sus raíces, orgullosos de su casa, orgullosos de donde vienen, orgullosos de su cultura, y sentirse felices de que tienen esa capacidad de que sí hablo Español, y estoy aprendiendo el Inglés, yo voy a poder. Hay que recordarles a los niños que pueden porque si pueden y a cualquier edad” dice Monica.

Monica Jimenez UConn PEP graduationComo asistente de educación, Monica también se dio cuenta de la importancia de la participación de los padres en la educación de sus hijos. Sabía que tenía que encontrar una manera de llegar a los padres de su comunidad para ayudar más a sus estudiantes. Queriendo hacer más por su comunidad, en 2017, Monica se unió al programa en Stamford UConn People Empowering People (UConn PEP). UConn PEP es un programa de Extensión en la Facultad de Agricultura, Salud y Recursos Naturales. Es un programa innovador de desarrollo personal y familiar con un fuerte enfoque en la comunidad. UConn PEP se basa en las fortalezas y experiencias únicas de vida de los participantes. El programa enfatiza la conexión entre los individuos y la acción comunitaria.

La experiencia de Monica con UConn PEP ha cambiado su vida. Se ha convertido en la base que la ha ayudado a expresar su pasión por empoderar a las personas. “UConn PEP y el curso que hice fue mi punto de partida para el trabajo en que me encuentro ahora. Aprendí muchas herramientas. Fue una mezcla de lo que ya había hecho en la escuela pública y UConn PEP me dio la oportunidad de aprender y saber cómo ayudar a la gente y cómo empoderarlas. Especialmente en mi caso a las mamás. Me empodero a mi y a la vez puedo empoderar a otras personas” dice Monica.

Monica Jimenez's group zoom meetingUn año después de graduarse del programa UConn PEP, Monica fue contratada como maestra para el programa “Children’s People Empowering People (CPEP)”. Además, también imparte cursos para el “Children’s Leadership Training Institute (CLTI)”. Actualmente está trabajando para convertirse en una madre líder en Stamford y completará su curso de “Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI)” en junio. Aunque a veces convertirse en líder de la comunidad puede ser un desafío, Monica se alegra de que a través de UConn PEP haya aprendido a ser directa y a manejar diferentes situaciones y audiencias.

Monica Jimenez selfie with daughterComo educadora de padres, Monica sirve a madres primerizas con niños recién nacidos hasta los cinco años de edad. A través de visitas en persona y virtuales, Monica ayuda a las madres a aprender sobre el desarrollo infantil, la importancia de la relación entre padres e hijos y las conecta con los recursos disponibles en su comunidad. Para Monica, tener este trabajo es un sueño hecho realidad.  “Es muy lindo llegar a la casa que es la raíz y es donde yo como la visitadora puedo acompañar a la mamá  en el crecimiento del niño e incentivarla a que pueda hacer un buen trabajo con sus hijos desde el principio” dice Monica. Como madre soltera, Monica comprende lo difícil que puede ser criar a un hijo. Siempre se ha esforzado por hacer lo mejor para su hija y constantemente anima a las madres a creer en sus propias habilidades, “siempre me encargo de decirles que sí se puede”, dice Monica.

Cuando se le preguntó por qué creía que empoderar a las personas era importante, Monica compartió: “Empoderar a la gente es importante porque todos tenemos una fuerza. Todos tenemos dentro toda la capacidad y el talento, solo que a veces, circunstancias de la vida nos hacen olvidar que tenemos esa capacidad. Todos tenemos eso. Hay algunos talentos que se encuentran escondidos. Hay algunos talentos que se encuentran apagados. Me ha dolido mucho que nuestra comunidad no siempre sea vista como una comunidad que aporta y nosotros si somos gente que aporta. Nosotros, la gente hispana aportamos. Podemos aportar mucho, tenemos capacidades dobles”.

En este momento, Monica está enfocada en completar su curso PLTI y lanzar su proyecto “Helping You Get Started (HUGS)”. HUGS acoge y presenta el sistema escolar a las familias recién llegadas. A través de visitas domiciliarias, Monica espera ayudar a los padres con cosas básicas como: cómo solicitar almuerzo gratis / reducido y en situaciones más complejas, cómo comunicarse con los maestros. Para ella es muy importante que los padres se den cuenta de que tienen toda la autoridad sobre cualquier decisión que se tome con respecto a la educación de sus hijos. HUGS cerrará la brecha de conocimiento y ayudará a los padres a encontrar su voz y ganar confianza. El segundo objetivo de Monica es regresar a la escuela y comenzar a trabajar para obtener una maestría en Trabajo Social. Con este título, ella espera poder servir y empoderar a más poblaciones.

 “Cuando uno cuenta su historia muchas personas pueden identificarse con ella y pueden aprender. Esta historia sirve para que alguien piense okay estoy en una situación similar, mejor, o peor, pero si una persona pudo, yo también puedo,” concluye Monica.


Artículo por Ivette Lopez


Click here to view in English.

Lower Fairfield County Master Gardener Program


Master Gardener logo

CAHNR Extension word markThe Lower Fairfield County Master Gardener Program wants to partner with you! Whether you are already a passionate gardener who would like to take your learning to the next level, a beginning gardener in search of a knowledgeable resource, or a community/group with a gardening need, the Master Gardener program is here for you. 

The program has been growing strong for more than 40 years. Certified UConn Extension Master Gardeners complete rigorous horticultural training, including both online and classroom education followed by 60 hours of diagnostic Plant Clinic service and volunteer outreach. 

Master Gardener (MG) volunteers are popping up everywhere throughout Fairfield county and across the state as they provide leadership, participate in field projects, give presentations and eagerly share their love of gardening while working side-by-side with community volunteers. 

A few examples of our partnerships include the blooming Pollinator Pathway project, which started locally and is quickly extending across the Northeast. Many MGs have spearheaded Pollinator Pathway initiatives in their hometown. You can also find MGs at the root of Wakeman Town Farm’s educational programs and as volunteer guides and partners in land management at Farm Creek Nature Preserve. 

Come to Plant Clinic so we can help you to weed out your gardening issues. We are available online at this time at

Master Gardeners provide their guidance and resources at no charge to the public. As a self-funded UConn Extension program, any donations are appreciated, particularly in these challenging times. Tax deductible donations can be made. Let’s continue to grow together! 

Article by: Pat Carroll UConn Extension Master Gardener Coordinator, Lower Fairfield County