Growing a Legacy of Opportunity

Growing a Legacy of Opportunity

Sherry Sheng | Master Gardener

From Childhood Curiosity to a Lifelong Passion

Sherry Sheng started gardening when she was five years old. With no one to teach her, her curiosity led to discovery — about plants, soil, insects, and more.

“I had so much fun just exploring,” she said. “That same joy is with me still today when I garden.”

Today, Sherry takes that joy and pours it into her volunteerism with the Master Gardner program where she leads the “10-Minute UniversityTM" classes that aims to equip participants with knowledge and tips about how to grow their own food. That program has been so wildly successful that it has been recognized with the International Master Gardner Award and during COVID-19 pandemic attracted thousands of all ages and backgrounds to online learning who were eager to reconnect to growing food.

A Lifetime Invested in Purpose

Even when she’s not gardening or teaching others to garden, Sherry has found her passion in creating purpose in what she does.

Born and raised in Taiwan, Sherry came to the United States to study at the University of Washington in Seattle. She then worked at the Seattle Aquarium for a decade, serving as its director prior to taking a position at the Oregon Zoo and then the State of Oregon Economic Development Department. In each of these roles, Sherry was motivated by creating opportunities for people and communities to learn and grow.

“I’ve always been driven by having a real purpose in the work that I do,” Sherry added. “Being able to share that through the work we do at the College of Agricultural Sciences and Master Gardeners is really important to me.”

A Legacy of Learning

The impact of creating purpose and joy for others led Sherry to make a significant contribution to the Master Gardeners program, endowing a director’s position that would virtually guarantee it would always be funded by science-based, leading research and discovery.

“I think people really benefit from understanding the work that goes into growing food,” Sherry said. “Gardening not only gives people a sanctuary, a place of solace, but it gives them a window into the larger agricultural community of farmers and ranchers who work tirelessly to feed others. When you grow your own food, you just have a better understanding of how valuable that truly is.”

The endowed position aims to ensure that the Master Gardner program that Sherry has devoted so much of her volunteer hours to over the past decade-plus will live on for generations. Perhaps even reaching another five-year-old in Taiwan exploring her back yard.