Area Master Gardeners were recently honored for their volunteer efforts at the Illinois Master Gardener Conference on September 6 in East Moline.
David White, Piatt County Master Gardener, was awarded a 2019 State Outstanding Master Gardener award and Piatt County Master Gardeners received the 2019 State Master Gardener Teamwork Award for Bryant Cottage Historical Garden.
David White lives in Bement and joined Master Gardeners in 2012. He is often the “person behind the scenes” providing technical assistance to the various Master Gardener projects in Piatt County.
Mark Bradley, Cheryl Evert, Charlie Foran, Chris Keller, Anna Kaczmarek, Kathy Lattz, Rosi McLeese, Judy Mitchell, Mare Payne, Marita Romine, Helen Wilding, David White and Jane White comprise the team that worked tirelessly to create a historically accurate herb and cottage garden at the Bryant Cottage State Historical site. The team set goals, acquired funding and transformed the landscaping around the cottage during a six-year period. The site receives more than 8,000 visitors yearly and is on the National Register of Historic Places by U.S. National Park Service.
The State Outstanding Master Gardener Award honors the best of Illinois Master Gardeners, those whose breadth and depth of involvement in the program is exemplary. Only 1 to 2 percent of active Master Gardeners in the state are recognized as an exceptional example to Master Gardeners within their respective programs as well as others in the state. The State Master Gardener Teamwork Award honors projects that make a difference in their community. The award recognizes projects that are impactful, innovative and replicable statewide.
The Macon County Master Gardener program also had four individuals recognized. Macon County Master Gardener Nancy Derby received the 2019 State Master Gardener Sustained Excellence Award while Ruby Mathews, Karen Parks and Jacque Wrigley were recipients of the 2019 State Outstanding Master Gardener Award.
The State Master Gardener Sustained Excellent award recognizes previous State Outstanding Master Gardener Award winners who have continued to develop in their Master Gardener career with new responsibilities and initiatives.
Nancy Derby lives in Forsyth and joined Master Gardeners in 2013. She received the State Master Gardener award in 2017 for her outstanding leadership. Nancy continues to be a strong leader in the program. Her vision to create an interactive children’s garden at the Decatur Public Library has enabled children who use the library to participate in hands on gardening. Nancy continues to promote the Master Gardener program and collaborates with community agencies to create and strengthen partnerships.
Ruby Mathews is from Decatur and became a Master Gardener in 2017. Ruby’s enthusiasm and collaborative efforts have been instrumental in restoring an historical garden at the Millikin Homestead. Ruby is often found leading walking tours of the garden and sharing the history and uses of the garden’s plants.
Karen Parks lives in Decatur and became a Master Gardener in 2015. Karen is always searching for “out of the box” ways to increase community awareness. She is co-chair of the annual Monarch Madness celebration and through her recommendation additional hands-on activities have been added for the children which has increased family attendance. Karen has given 507 hours of volunteer service beyond her 60 hour internship.
Jacque Wrigley is also from Decatur and joined the Master Gardener Program in 2016. Jacque serves as Advisory Board President and encourages members to bring new ideas and different perspectives to the table during planning meetings. Jacque is a great advocate for non-profit organizations who can benefit from educational programs that the Master Gardener program can provide. She also serves as mentor for Master Garden Help Desk trainees.
Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by the University of Illinois Extension and volunteer time and expertise by sharing their horticulture skills with the community through garden projects and educational outreach. Total volunteer hours for the Piatt County Master Gardener program in 2018 was 1,854.25 hours. Award photos may be accessed at https://uofi.app.box.com/folder/87508952336. To learn more about the Master Gardener program, visit go.illinois.edu/dmp or call the Piatt County Master Gardener Program Coordinator Beth Miglin 217-762-2191.