Featured Master Gardener ~ Joy Stevens ~

With a professional career ranging from being an engineer, an attorney and
presently a naturopathic physician, it is easy to deduce that Joy Stevens is a
driven person with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. This curiosity for
insight and additional information led her to sign up for Master Gardener classes in 2013. Unsurprisingly, she completed her Master Gardener Levels I, II and III within one year!
Joy finds that what she has learned in her Master Gardener classes has become part of her life and way of living. “You just do, it’s subconscious,” she says. She believes that the foundation of health includes a clean diet, curbing stress, and being physically active. As such, she eats organic food most of the time, gardens to de-stress,and engages in activities like karate and skiing. She knows that plants contain powerful medicine, so she grows many herbs in her yard for personal consumption. In her naturopathic practice, she administers botanical medicine as a tincture, as a tea, or even topically. After one of her beloved dogs contracted cancer from pesticides in the grass, Joy decided to make her large backyard pesticide- and herbicide-free. She applied her Master Gardener know-how on what fertilizer to use or add to help control unwanted plants in her backyard. “I enjoy weeding and feel the need to get soil in my hands,” she says. When Joy noticed ants on her trees, she concluded the presence of aphids and released ladybugs to take care of the pest. Integrated Pest Management at its best!
Joy’s orchard of fruit trees in her yard brings her much satisfaction and amusement. When her critter camera revealed evidence that her pear tree attracted deer, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, foxes, and porcupines to the ‘pear buffet’, she decided to plant more fruit trees so that the animals would have some food to forage in the fall.
Joy is an active volunteer and coordinator for the annual Science Expo, a regional science fair organized by Montana State University and Billings Clinic and affiliated with the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where students from grades 1-12 compete for prizes and scholarships. For her, this is an ideal way of giving back to the community and getting kids interested in science and engineering from an early age.
Joy appreciates the camaraderie of fellow Master Gardeners and she participates in gatherings when time allows. She admires that fact that Master Gardeners are passionate about preserving the beauty of plants and are always willing to share their knowledge in helping people with any plant questions.

Submitted by Suri Lunde