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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Master Volunteers (Gardeners & Naturalists)
Master Gardener trainees at ICC, where they learned how to overwinter annuals using bareroot and cuttings methods.

Twenty-one New Master Gardeners Trained in Fall 2017

A new crop of volunteers completed University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener training on November 7, 2017. Twenty-one energetic trainees culminated their ten-week Master Gardener training course by advancing to intern status. Traditionally held during winter, training was moved to fall to allow for more outdoor learning activities and less missed snow days. It was also an opportu...

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2017 State Outstanding Master Gardener Award winner May Bach with Dr. Czapar
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Award Winning Master Gardeners

I am continually impressed and humbled by what our University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners accomplish. Although they all deserve accolades, several of our local Master Gardeners were recently recognized at the 2017 Illinois Master Gardener Conference in Normal for their outstanding efforts. May Bach, Jennifer Bass, and Kathy Edwards were among 36 Master Gardeners receiving the...

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2017 University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener teamwork award for Wildlife Federation Mayor%u2019s Monarch Garden in Pekin, Illinois. Pictured are Dr. Czapar, Dr. Bissonnette, Susan McCabe, Margaret Kelly, Jennifer Bass, and Carol Cihla.

Pekin Garden Wins State Master Gardener Award

A team of eight University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners was awarded a teamwork award for their Wildlife Federation Mayor's Monarch Garden in Pekin, Illinois. The award was presented during University of Illinois Extension's annual master gardener conference in Normal on September 8, 2017. This group's project planted seeds of knowledge in young people to develop their love for...

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2017 State Outstanding Master Gardener Award winner May Bach with Dr. Czapar
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Peoria County has Award Winning Master Gardeners

May Bach and Jennifer Bass were honored for their outstanding contributions to University of Illinois Extension's Master Gardener Program during the 2017 Illinois Master Gardener Conference in Normal. May and Jennifer were among 36 Master Gardeners receiving the State Outstanding Master Gardener Award. They are each involved in various projects in the Peoria area. May Bach was t...

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2017 State Outstanding Master Gardener Award winner Kathy Edwards with Rhonda Ferree

Kathy Edwards Named State Outstanding Master Gardener

Kathy Edwards was one of 36 University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners honored for their outstanding contributions to Illinois' Master Gardener Program. She was named a State Outstanding Master Gardener at the 2017 Illinois State Master Gardener Conference in Normal. Kathy has been an active Master Gardener in Fulton County since 2007. Her many projects include educational garden...

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MG grad 2016 -009

Become a Master Gardener

Master Gardeners are a special group of people who all have a common interest – a love of gardening and nature and the desire to share that knowledge with others. The Master Gardener Volunteer program is a very successful University of Illinois Extension Horticulture program. The program aim is to give intensive horticultural training to individuals who will, in turn, share this training with t...

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Plastic pot recyclying display GBD 2009
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Master Gardeners Provide Gardening Tips at Various Events

In 2015, 163 Master Gardener volunteers contributed 12,863 hours in the Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties. Their volunteer service is valued at $296,749 (using an estimated dollar value of volunteer time of $23.07 per hour as calculated by Independent Sector). Master Gardeners have several large events scheduled in our four county Extension Unit. Stop by their informa...

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ICC Master Gardener Demonstration Garden
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ICC Master Gardener Demo Garden Provides Educational Seminars

The ICC Summer Gardening Educational Series provides gardening information to the general public. The educational series is part of the ICC Tri-County Extension Master Gardener Demo Garden located at Illinois Central College's Land Laboratory in East Peoria. Master Gardeners from Peoria, Tazewell and Woodford also plan and maintain a Demonstration Garden for the public at this location....

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Havana tree planting 2015
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Tree Plantings at Havana's Riverfront Park Provide Many Benefits

On Saturday, May 9, 2015, fifteen volunteers spent the morning planting and mulching fifty trees in Havana's Riverfront Park. Volunteers included students from Havana, Peoria Heights, and Tremont, as well as staff and volunteers from University of Illinois Extension. Debbie Fluegel from Trees Forever coordinated the planting. Trees Forever, a Midwest non-profit organization, the City of Havana...

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Ferree's ILRiverHort avatar
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2014 Year in Review

University of Illinois Extension horticulture programs inspired citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. Here are a few examples of how our programs impacted the residents of Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties ion 2014. High quality, impactful programs taught homeowners how to create energy efficient landscapes using sustainable practice...

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Red admiral butterfly on Mexican zinnia on 9-17-12
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Master Naturalists Learn About Butterflies and More!

The Wildlife Prairie Park Butterfly Habitat was awarded a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Teamwork Award at an awards banquet in Champaign on June 13 th . The Master Gardener Teamwork Award recognizes groups of Master Gardeners who work together to accomplish a common goal for the betterment of their communities. The Kim St. John Butterfly Habitat is an excellent exam...

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Rhonda Ferree, Extension Educator
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Ferree named State Master Naturalist Coordinator

University of Illinois Extension recently named Rhonda Ferree as the new statewide coordinator of the Master Naturalist program. Ferree also serves as an Extension horticulture educator serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties The U of I Extension Master Naturalist program provides science-based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged...

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Mason County Junior Master Gardener 4-H club co-leaders Randy Bell and Glenn Fanter sow a cover crop to improve garden soil in the kids garden located at the Mason County 4-H and Jr. Show Fairgrounds. Photo by Paula Lane, Office Support Assistant

Cover Crops Trialed by Junior Master Gardeners

The sands of Mason County do not always contain necessary nutrients needed for good garden growth. To fix this problem, Mason County Junior Master Gardeners (JMG) are trying cover crops in their gardens located at the Mason County fairgrounds. Cover crops are plants grown in a garden to improve a soil's structure and fertility. They are a living mulch that competes with weeds, helps wi...

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Master Naturalists learn about water quality at Emiquon.
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Want to be a Master Naturalist?

I am so excited about our University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist program. We held our first training last fall and are now taking applications for the fall 2013 class. Why do I like this program so much? If you read this column very often, you know I love plants and the great outdoors. I love to hike, kayak, camp, fish, and journaling in various natural sett...

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Help Available for All Your Garden Questions!

Do you wonder why your crabapple trees are dropping so many yellow leaves or how to deal with those pesky green bugs eating your roses? University of Illinois Extension is here to help answer all your gardening questions using our front line of attack - Master Gardener volunteers (MGs). Rhonda Ferree, Horticulture Educator with University of Illinois Extension, says that homeowner yard an...

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Fulton County Master Gardeners Awarded for Service

Master Gardeners (MGs) in Fulton County were recognized at a program on March 4th at Monicals restaurant in Canton, IL. There are 29 active MGs, 3 interns, and four trainees in currently in Fulton county. MGs must each receive at least 10 hours of continuing education and provide at least 30 hours of volunteer service in an approved MG project to maintain their active status. In 2012...

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Mason County Master Gardeners Recognized for Service

Master Gardeners (MGs) in Mason County were recognized at a program on February 28th at Grandpas restaurant in Havana, IL. There is one MG intern and 9 active MGs currently in Mason county. Four new trainees will soon join them. MGs must each receive at least 10 hours of continuing education and provide at least 30 hours of volunteer service in an approved MG project to maintain their...

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Breaking ground for a new butterfly house at Wildlife Prairie Park in Peoria on December 6, 2012.

Butterfly Garden at Wildlife Prairie State Park in Peoria

Volunteers broke ground on December 6th for a new butterfly house at Wildlife Prairie Park in Peoria. Pictured at the ground breaking are University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners Lee Maki (right)and Bonnie Hunt (second from right); Jason Boerger, Wildlife Prairie Park General Manager; and a volunteer Cat operator from the Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center. A group of Peoria County...

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Master Naturalists

Last week we graduated 19 Master Naturalists in our inaugural class. Students came from Fulton, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. Gayle Blodgett represented Fulton County and has great ideas for fulfilling her volunteer hours here. The Master Naturalist (MN) program is new to our Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell University of Illinois Extension Unit. It is modeled after our ex...

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Want to be a Master Gardener?

If you have a strong interest in gardening and enjoy teaching others, you are invited to apply to become a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. Extension Units around the state are accepting applications for Master Gardener training. Most classes begin in January and run on consecutive weeks through March. Increase your knowledge and understanding of such v...

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Master Naturalist Trainees Explore Smartphone Apps

Our Extension Unit launched the Master Naturalist program this fall by training 20 new volunteers. Training began on August 31st with a session on the Natural Division of Illinois and another on Understand the Natural World. Since then they've explored an arboretum, prairie, and Wildlife Prairie Park. They've learned about snakes and reptiles, mammals and prairies in an up close and personal way....

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2012 Master Gardener Award Winners!

Master Gardener program coordinator Julia Pryor attended a  banquet at the Illinois MG Conference on September 7th in Crystal Lake, IL where state Master Gardener (MG) Award winners were recognized. Julia provides this summary of the twelve winners from the University of Illinois Extension Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit (FMPT). Good things are growing in central Illinois, and the ha...

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Master Gardener Training Planned

Calling all gardeners! Master Gardener training begins January 15 th Master Gardeners are a special group of people who all have a common interest – a love of gardening and nature and the desire to share that knowledge with others. The Master Gardener Volunteer program is a very successful University of Illinois Extension Horticulture program. The progra...

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Tour of BetterEarth composting facility in Peoria on March 29, 2012

Master Composter Trainees Promoted in Peoria

Twelve Master Gardeners recently completed the University of Illinois Extension Master Composter training program. Trainees from the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Extension Unit learned the science and art of composting. Classes were held on March 8 th and 29 th at the University of Illinois Extension office in Peoria. Duane Friend, University of Illinois Extension Ed...

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