The Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardener program, a highly trained volunteer force that educates Oregonians about the art and science of growing and caring for plants, has conferred top honors to its most dedicated ambassadors.
Twenty-five volunteers were recognized for their service to their counties and communities.
The Oregon State University Extension Service’s Master Gardener program and the Oregon Master Gardener Association, a nonprofit that supports the program, sponsor the annual awards.
Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by the OSU Extension Service. They share their knowledge of sustainable gardening and OSU home horticulture resources by volunteering to answer questions and teach classes at their local Extension offices, farmers’ markets and libraries.
More than 3,000 people across the state are active Master Gardeners. In 2014, Master Gardeners had more than 185,000 interactions with the public statewide. They volunteered more than 195,000 hours, the equivalent of about 92 full-time workers in communities across Oregon, according to Gail Langellotto, statewide coordinator of the Master Gardener program.
Marcia Sherry of Newberg Oregon has been selected as the 2015 Master Gardener of the Year. A Master Gardener for 16 years across three states (Ohio, Utah and Oregon), Sherry has served as team leader, class instructor, volunteer mentor and project coordinator. Among her many activities, Sherry was president of Yamhill County Master Gardener Program, historian and newsletter editor for the Oregon Master Gardener Association and onsite coordinator and liaison for the 2015 Gardener’s Mini-College.
She has chaired and helped to launch Yamhill County’s annual educational seminar, “Spring into Gardening,” an event that promotes and educates people about research-based sustainable gardening methods. It has increased attendance each year. From 2008-14, she chaired the Oregon Master Gardener Association’s Send-A-Friend project, which provides Mini-College scholarships to Master Gardeners across Oregon.
Alan Wenner of McMinnville was recognized with the Behind the Scenes award for his 18 years of service to the Master Gardener Program. He has served as the president of the Yamhill County Master Gardener Association and as Yamhill County’s representative to the Oregon Master Gardener Association. He has also been instrumental in the McMinnville community garden.
The county-level Master Gardeners of the Year are:
Benton County: Pat and Debbie Wray of Corvallis, who have been Master Gardeners for five years, are the driving force behind the Plant Problem Scenarios project, which won Oregon’s Marje Luce Search for Excellence award in 2013 and will be recognized by the international arm of the award for 2015.
Central Gorge (Hood River County): Audrey Schneider of Hood River serves as president of the Central Gorge Master Gardener Association and has been co-leader of the Library Garden Project. She researches and answers questions via the Plant Clinic and has particular expertise in grasses and drought-resistant gardening.
Central Oregon (Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson Counties): After a stint as a Master Gardener in Clackamas County, Diana Hardin moved to Redmond where she serves on the board of directors of the Central Oregon Master Gardener Association and is the representative to the statewide Master Gardener Association. She has coordinated the plant sale, is a speaker and frequently teaches classes in the community education program.
Clackamas County: Nancy Muir of Milwaukie became a Master Gardener in 2011 and dedicated her volunteer hours to Grow an Extra Row, a program that produces more than 3,000 pounds of fresh food for area food banks. In 2015, she led the effort for the project to become a demonstration and learning garden.
Clatsop County: Nancy Leonard was selected for the New Sprouts award during her first year as a Master Gardener in 2011. She is the project leader for the county’s Winterizing Your Garden program and works for the group’s largest fundraising event, Spring into Gardening. Leonard also sits on the Clatsop County Master Gardener Association Marketing and Publicity Committee.
Columbia County: Two-year Master Gardener Scott Bauska of St. Helens has been a long-time advocate of the community meals program, a partnership between the local food bank and St. Helens Lutheran Church. Since becoming a Master Gardener, Bauska has had a key role in the St. Helens Community Garden, which donated 3,000 pounds of food to the community meals program in 2014.
Coos County: Since becoming a Master Gardener in 2011, Kathy Low of Coos Bay has been instrumental in the Coos Bay Farmers Market plant clinic, overseeing staffing and improving the appearance of the booth. She has used her talents as an artist to produce signs, fliers and pamphlets for the county program. Low has also served as secretary of the Coos County Master Gardener Association.
Curry County: Mary Jacobs of Ophir is a volunteer who inspires students, teachers, Master Gardeners and community members through her work at the Riley Creek Elementary School Garden in Gold Beach. Under her leadership, the school has received new greenhouses, raised beds and compost bins. Jacobs organizes garden activities with the students, hosts harvest festivals and helps see that food grown in the garden supplements the school lunch program with extra going to the food bank.
Douglas County: Sharon Hopkins of Sutherlin has put in more than 1,300 volunteer hours since becoming a Master Gardener in 2011. She has given her time to the plant clinic at the OSU Extension office, Kruse Farms, Drain Farmers Market and Douglas County Fair. Hopkins serves as a class mentor, has helped with hands-on trainings in the Master Gardener greenhouse and been active in Discovery Children’s Garden.
Jackson County: Three-year Master Gardener Roberta Heinz has served as treasurer for the Friends of Research and Extension, which ran the campaign to create a service district for the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center. She has been the lead gardener at the Children’s’ Demonstration Garden and serves on the Jackson County Master Gardener Association board of directors.
Josephine County: Currently serving as vice president of the Josephine County Master Gardener Association, John Etchells of Grants Pass focuses on expanding educational opportunities for Josephine County residents. He has worked on the plant sale, agricultural activities at the county fair and plant clinic training.
Klamath County: Dewey Moore of Klamath Falls completed his Master Gardener training in 2014. His first-year volunteer activities won him the Klamath County Extension Office staff award. Dewey has volunteered to help manage a community garden and to build a greenhouse near Mills Elementary School.
Lane County: Everett Givens of Eugene, who has been a Master Gardener for two years, gives compost demonstrations and is active as a specialist in pruning, tree fruit and diagnostics. He has also been a regular participant in developing the new demonstration garden at the Lane County Extension office.
Lincoln County: During her six years as a Master Gardener, Donna Davis has been a volunteer at the 12th Street Garden and in the Oceanview Garden. For two years she staffed a booth, often alone, at the weekly farmers market. She has also served as the treasurer of the Lincoln County Master Gardener Association.
Linn County: Susan Morton of Lebanon became a Master Gardener in 2011. She has coordinated the Linn County plant sale and become the bee specialist for Linn County Master Gardeners, organizing the Bee-Vent conference dedicated to advancing understanding of pollinators and the ecosystem services they provide to farmers and gardeners.
Marion County: Sherry Hari of Aumsville and Thomas Martin of Salem share the county Master Gardener of the Year award. Hari has been a Master Gardener for four years, Martin for two. Both were nominated for their exceptional work on this year’s plant sale, the most successful to date. Hari has also served as a class mentor, newsletter editor and membership chair and volunteers at the Oregon State Correctional Institution. Martin has chaired the Marion Demonstration Garden.
Multnomah County: Pete Jacobsen serves as a guide and key member of the planning team for the Multnomah County Demonstration Garden. Jacobsen is also a member of the Oregon Food Bank’s Seed to Supper team, teaching classes to low-income, beginning gardeners.
Polk County: Darrell Ward, a Master Gardener since 2011, has been tireless in his efforts to fund and develop the 6-acre Inspiration Garden in Independence. He has cleared brush and weeds, done landscaping and planting and helped raise funds for a garden building that will serve as storage, work and meeting space.
Tillamook County: Janet and Rick Anderson and Pam George have been active Master Gardeners for many years. The Andersons have chaired the Tillamook County plant sale, which enables the Master Gardener Program to fund scholarships and improve the Master Gardener learning gardens. George works at the plant sale, volunteers to assist with the garden tour, works clinics at the Tillamook and the Pacific City Farmers Markets, and writes a monthly column for the newsletter. She is president of the Tillamook County Master Gardener Association, and works in the Learning Garden.
Umatilla County: Carol Mills of Adams became a Master Gardener in 2010. She is the vice president of the Umatilla County Master Gardener Association. Mills is a local expert on insects, and often shares her knowledge to local school groups. She recently co-chaired the Master Gardener booth at the Eastern Oregon Arts Festival, an event that drew over 1,000 people.
Wasco County: Carolyn Wright, who became a Master Gardener in 2001, has been the editor of the newsletter since 2009. She began working with the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facilities Greenhouse project in 2011 and volunteers there for three months each winter. In 2008, Wright wrote a grant to help establish the The Dalles Imagination Garden.
Washington County: In 2014, Bob Falconer of Hillsboro worked over 500 hours at the Washington County Master Gardener phone clinic. He was part of the team that developed and piloted OSU Extension’s Ask an Expert app, which received the OSU Vice Provost Award for Excellence. Falconer twice served as president, and continues to serve as past-president of the Washington County Master Gardener Association.
Yamhill County: Five-year Master Gardener Linda Mason of McMinnville is the coordinator of the McMinnville Community Garden, which is a partnership between the Yamhill County Master Gardener Program and McMinnville Cooperative Ministries. This garden is a teaching site and gathering place for all ages. Thousands of pounds of produce have been harvested and donated from the garden.