A Love Your Parks Tour Story of Excellence by Lisa D. Smith and Nancy J. Reid, assigned by Bobbi DePorter, Co-Founder of SuperCamp and creator of the 8 Keys of Excellence


Master gardener Marylou Milstead talks about the Robert J. Moody Garden in Yuma, Arizona and Bill Moody talks about his father’s legacy as an esteemed community leader on Big Blend Radio.


Our first visit to the Robert J. Moody Demonstration Garden was during the annual Yuma Bird, Nature and History Festival held in Yuma, Arizona this past January. This low desert garden was lush green with splashes of color from the fresh vegetable crops, flowering aloe, marigold, brittlebush and bottlebrush. Along with the whimsical garden art and red barn, whirling windmill and shade ramadas, the various cactus plants provided architectural interest as we strolled along the winding pathway.

Of course, as soon as we returned to Yuma, we headed right back to see what was popping up for spring, and we were treated to a vibrant showcase of flower power. Sunflowers and wildflowers swayed in the breeze as butterflies flitted from bloom to bloom. The tomatoes and cabbage were ready for harvest and the cactus was starting to blossom. Who knew so much could grow in a desert! 

Founded in 2004 as a partnership between the University of Arizona and the Moody Garden Makers Club, this 1.7 acre garden encompasses a Children’s Garden, Cultivated Plants Garden, Emblem Garden, Healing Garden, Native Plants Garden, Tropical Garden, Vegetable Garden and Xeriscape Garden. With numerous interpretive signs, it’s a treasure trove of garden information designed to educate locals and visitors of all ages, about what grows in the Yuma.

Along with a thriving tourism industry, the military and agriculture are key factors to Yuma’s growing economy. Listed as the “Sunniest Place on Earth” by the Guinness Book of World Records, and home to the lower Colorado River, the whole region is one of the top winter vegetable producers in the country. Robert J. Moody’s John Deere tractor in the children’s garden pays respect to the local agriculture industry, something he was very much a part of as a University of Arizona cooperative extension agent, tractor salesman, farmer and cattle rancher, and real estate appraiser.  

The Garden brings the community together to learn, volunteer and enjoy the beauty of plants. As you can hear in our Big Blend Radio with master gardener Marylou Milstead and Bill Moody, it’s only fitting that it is named in honor of Robert J. Moody. He led a life of excellence with integrity to his work, consistent contribution to community, and dedication to youth education.

Robert J. Moody’s developed the 4-H youth program in Yuma County and was the 4-H Leader for over 30 years, and, helped initiate and institute the first Yuma County Fair. He was part of the delegation that went to Washington D. C. to lobby and testify for federal funds for the Gila Project, a large irrigation project that eventually boosted the local water supply. He was involved in and often chairman of numerous community, business and agricultural organizations including the Somerton and Yuma Rotary Clubs, Yuma Chamber of Commerce, UA Extension Advisory Council, Yuma County Extension Board, Arizona Crop Improvement Association, Yuma County Water Users, American Society of  Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, the Farm Bureau, Arizona Cattle Growers and Arizona Cotton Growers Association.

Robert J. Moody was Committed to the greater Yuma Community. Though we never had the great opportunity to meet him, his legacy runs congruent with this famous quote by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”

The Robert J. Moody Garden is free and open daily. There is an amphitheater, shade ramadas, and picnic tables. It is located at 2200 W. 28th Street, Yuma, Arizona 85364-3904. For more information or to inquire about group tours or events, please call (928) 726-3904 (ask for the Moody Garden). More information is available at and on Facebook .

Nancy J. Reid and Lisa D. Smith, the mother-daughter travel team on the Love Your Parks Tour, and publishers of Big Blend Magazines, are ambassadors for the 8 Keys of Excellence Character Education Program that embraces the challenge of bringing excellence to 50 million children and young adults. This free program builds excellence in communities by guiding young people and families, toward a positive future full of confidence, motivation, creativity, team work, leadership and valuable life principles. More at

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