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Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog

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 harvest has just begun. Master Gardeners are truly making an impact helping others. Families are eating healthier foods. Children are partnering with adults and learning about insects. Food pantries are being supplied with fresh quality produce. Seniors are seeing butterflies and loving it!

For me, the beauty of the Master Gardener program is seeing people bloom along with the gardens they grow. I love seeing giftedness shine in ways that help others. I am delighted to share the remarkable news about FMPT MG award recipients. Make some confetti and start the applause: We have a LOT to CELEBRATE!

The Outstanding MG award goes to MGs who are an exceptional example to others. The competition is tough: an outstanding MG is awarded to less than 2% of MGs statewide and honors the best of Illinois MGs. Congratulations to Sally Hart (Fulton), Carol Cihla and Kathie Pickering (Tazewell), and Donald Glover and Mary Whittaker (Peoria) who receive the Outstanding Master Gardener award.

The Sustained Excellence Award was established to honor MGs who have previously received the Outstanding award and continue to demonstrate distinction in the MG program. These people are an exceptional example to MGs and have completed at least 480 hours of volunteer service. Applause for Mary Lou Kuchan (Fulton), Roger Harfst (Mason), Bonnie Williams (Peoria), and Donna Cothrell and Shirley Metz (Tazewell) who inspire fellow MGs and demonstrate excellence as they help us all learn to grow.

The State Teamwork Award honors projects that have truly made a difference. Canton's Jones Park project (Fulton) and the ICC Summer Gardening Series (Tazewell) each receive this award. Here's some info:

ICC: Tazewell MG Kathie Pickering toured the University of Washington MG Demo Garden on vacation. MGs involved at the site told her about educational seminars held in the summer. The idea sounded so good she brought home the idea as a souvenir and VOILA! The concept was transplanted to the ICC Summer Gardening Educational Series where seminars feature the demo garden, educate the public and utilize the skills and strengths of area MGs. The ICC Summer Gardening Series involves many and has been extremely well received. Plans are to continue this educational series for years to come.

Jones Park: Once a place people hurried to pass by, this tiny spot is now the crowned jewel at the heart of the City of Canton, IL. Chairperson Carol Kohler recognized that people wanted to get involved in gardening but did not know where to begin. Jones Park activities serve as a virtual garden calendar for the community. If gardening or landscaping projects seem overwhelming, a visit to Jones Park inspires modest improvements over time. MGs and others partner to grow. All involved say they see an increase in community pride. Jones Park has become a gathering spot. Folks have the freedom to have gardening questions answered by knowledgeable volunteers who interact informally.

THANKS to all involved and GO TEAM!

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