[Courtesy photo]

The Youth Garden Project is bidding farewell to its executive director, and welcoming her successor.

On Tuesday, May 2, from 4 to 6 p.m., the YGP will be toasting its goodbyes to executive director Delite Primus.

This weekend will be Primus’ final Annual Spring Plant Sale with the YGP. On Friday, April 28, from 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., community members can choose from a large variety of locally grown vegetable starts, herbs, native perennials, groundcovers, flowering perennials and fruit trees at the YGP, 530 S. 400 East.

Primus came on board with the organization in 2008 and became the executive director in 2012 – the year that AmeriCorps funding was withdrawn from several Utah programs, including the YGP.

YGP Board Director Trish Hawkins said that Primus came on in a moment of crisis, when the question was, “How do we make YGP survive?”

“Delite turned that around – from being a crisis to being something incredible,” said Hawkins, referring to the YGP’s current and thriving internship program.

Primus is humble about the transition, attributing the evolution of the programs to a network of community members involved.

“We used the structure – what worked from AmeriCorps – to create our own program,” Primus said. “Each year, we’ve changed and modified, and each year it gets better. It’s reached a point where it’s an important program for us, and it’s a great educational program for (the interns). I think that combination – it being valuable for both sides – will help it carry itself into the future.”

Primus’ sentiment will be ceremonially demonstrated by the passing of the torch of the executive director to Ruth Linford, who was an AmeriCorps member at the YGP at the time when Primus took on the position.

“One of the things the YGP tries to do is cultivate leadership in the kids,” Hawkins said. “So we are pretty excited that one of the AmeriCorps kids is now in the leadership position as the executive director of the YGP.”

Linford said that she fell in love with the work, her colleagues and her students almost instantly.

“I was deeply unprepared for the renewed sense of empowerment I felt for myself at the end of the summer,” she said. “I may have been the one teaching, but Delite and the team at YGP were definitely schooling me in a vision of education based in community empowerment.”

Linford is a Utah native with a master’s degree in community art education. Since her work for the YGP in 2012, Linford has traveled, gained experience in fundraising and working with teens, and served as the program director for an artist residency in Arkansas.

Hawkins said that the YGP conducted a national search for a new executive director.

“I think we had like 14 applicants from around the country, some of whom were local,” Hawkins said. “And because of Ruth’s experience – she has worked internationally, she has great management skills, she has done grant writing, running programs, fundraising, major donor cultivation, a lot of work with indigenous populations and underserved populations – (she was selected).”

The YGP is currently hosting four interns, from North Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and Montana, and serves 324 students annually.

“My hopes are that (the YGP) remains a cornerstone in the Moab community,” Primus said. “In recent years, we have been consistent in engaging more and more youth each year, and I hope that continues and YGP continues to play an important role in meeting community needs.”

Hawkins said that one of the goals of YGP was to create a five-year plan, and Primus did just that.

“Ruth is the ideal person to implement that strategic plan with her qualifications,” Hawkins said.

The YGP’s Board of Directors said it would like to express its sincere gratitude to Primus for the 10 years she has devoted to the Youth Garden Project.

“Her leadership and vision has made the garden grow,” the board said in a statement.

For Primus, the gratitude is reciprocated.

“My entire time here – it has been such an honor to be a part of YGP and to have opportunities to work with community members that do so much to make Moab the special place that it is,” she said.

Local nonprofit welcomes new director, hosts spring plant sale

(It) has been such an honor to be a part of YGP and to have opportunities to work with community members that do so much to make Moab the special place that it is.

What: Youth Garden Project’s Annual Spring Plant Sale

When: Friday, April 28, from 4 to 8 p.m., and Saturday, April 29, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Where: Youth Garden Project, 530 S. 400 East

Cost: Varies

Information: www.youthgardenproject.org; 435-259-2326