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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 Year in Review

My goal in 2012 was for my horticulture program to inspire citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. We delivered this information to residents in Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell counties in various ways.

We achieved media success using new approaches and technology, current information on emerging issues such as Japanese beetle and drought issues was delivered quickly and conveniently through the internet and other media sources. Daily posts on my Facebook Page averaged 15,000 views per month. I wrote 202 media releases, conducted 22 radio interviews, and participated in five television programs. I helped often with the Thursday evening live online chats on MidAmerican Gardener. I participated in a gardenchat on Twitter that reached over 60,000 Tweeps.

We reached clientele with educational presentations at various locations. I gave presentations to over 3,500 citizens reaching groups such as women's clubs, Extension garden days, park districts, county fairs, and more. Through those I attempted to teach others about Tea Gardens, the Meaning of Flowers, New Plants in 2012, Herb Gardens, Houseplant Propagation, Garden Weeds, and more.

We grew a stronger Master Gardener program. Our 171 Master Gardener volunteers reached over 10,000 local residents during the 7,439 hours they spent "Helping Others Learn to Grow" in 2012 (worth $155,103).

We directly answered clientele questions using NEW Plant Detectives. These are a special group of Master Gardeners on the front line for answering horticulture questions that come into one of our four Extension offices. Volunteers and staff solved over 800 yard and garden questions in the offices using their new Plant Detective skills.

We implemented a NEW Master Naturalist program, training 19 new Master Naturalists in our inaugural fall training program. These dedicated individuals spent 10 weeks learning all about our natural world. They constantly amaze me as I watch them work as Master Naturalist volunteers. Since their training ended in October they have already helped with controlled burns, exotic plant removal, and taught youth in various ways.

We built a unit horticulture team in the Havana Horticulture Hub that serves all four counties. As the Horticulture Educator, I work closely with Julia Pryor Program, Master Gardener Coordinator, and Christine Belless, Master Naturalist Program Coordinator. Office Support Associate Paula Lane rounds out our team as our central point for most horticulture communications.

We invite you to visit our website at and learn more about our horticulture program. There you'll find links to my social media pages, blogs, news releases, a calendar of events, and so much more. Happy Holidays!

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