Dr. Mary M. Black

Abra Lee Interview – Fulton County
May 15, 2017

Dr. Mary M. Black


Dr. Mary M. Black

Gwinnett County would like to introduce you to our new Family and Consumer Sciences County Extension Agent/Coordinator, Dr. Mary M. Black.

Mary was born in Washington, DC and grew up in Arlington, Virginia. When asked what her early influences were Mary replied, “My mother was an avid gardener. She had a beautiful rock garden on the side of a hill in our backyard.

Whenever I was with her, no matter where we went (school, church, grocery store, library, etc.) my mom would always point out the beautiful flowers she saw along the way. I learned to see the world through her eyes – always noticing the beautiful trees and flowers. She and my dad grew tomatoes and corn in our small side yard where we got a lot of sunshine, and we grew grapes to make grape jelly for my brother’s peanut butter and jelly sandwiches”.

Mary grew up seeing gardening and growing food early on in her life and it had an influence on her. “Most of my adult life I wanted to be a master gardener which finally happened later in life rather than earlier”.

Mary went to Mars Hill College in North Carolina near Asheville where she received a B.S. in Home Economics with a concentration in Nutrition. “Once I took my 1st nutrition class, I knew I wanted to be a dietitian and work in the hospital setting”.

Being a dietitian required Mary to get a M.S. degree in Nutrition, so she continued her education at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. A couple of years later Mary thought she might like teaching nutrition at the University level and again continued her education at the University of NC in Greensboro to get her PhD in Nutrition.

When asked what interested her in becoming an Extension Agent she answered that after completing the GA Master Gardening training, she began working on her volunteer hours. As Mary volunteered, she saw a wonderful collaboration of UGA Extension and Gwinnett County employees and volunteers.

“I saw the capacity to improve the everyday lives of Gwinnett County residents through education and training programs as well as the services offered through extension. Although the programs and services are a bit different from my work in the hospital setting, the community outreach aspect is the same as well as the potential to impact the community in a big way”.

“I really enjoy working with so many dedicated employees and volunteers. I enjoy the fact that our programs and services reach so many different settings in the community; schools, day care centers, libraries, garden clubs, parks and recreation centers etc.”.

Mary continued, adding that although she is a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent (not an Ag or 4-H agent), she is enjoying learning about both the Ag and 4-H programs. “At this point in time, I will consider 2017 a successful year when I see and hear Extension staff and our volunteers get excited about their work, seek to grow where they can and feel a sense of accomplishment”.

No doubt, Mary Black’s enthusiasm is spreading among the staff and certainly amongst volunteers both as an Extension leader and as a Gwinnett County Master Gardener! She regularly attends monthly GCMGA meetings as well as maintaining her busy schedule at Extension. Mary’s door is always open and you may contact her at