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University of Illinois Extension honors DuPage County master gardeners

Master gardeners from the University of Illinois Extension of DuPage County volunteered more than 9,000 hours this year. The 30 volunteers also helped more than 3,300 people and donated more than 5,000 pounds of produce to area food pantries.

The group was honored by the extension during its 22nd annual awards and appreciation night recently in Wheaton.

“We truly appreciate everything our amazing volunteers do to serve our DuPage County communities and to make this long-standing master gardener program a continued success,” said Sarah Navrotski, master gardener program coordinator, in a press release. “Master Gardeners share their own time and talents through the master gardener help desk, special events, service projects, workshops and more.”

The annual appreciation night recognized both new master gardeners, as well as those with several years of service, Navrotski said.

Nineteen master gardener interns were elevated to the official rank of certified master gardener, including Diane Ancede, Carol Angarola, Ada Bleeker, Carol Burck, Linda Campbell, Yola Chrusciel, Ellen Crotser, Bob Elvert, Judy Friese, Nancy Grove, Karen Harris, Carrie Hogan, Marlene Kastle, Linda Lewis, Terri Rafter, Anne Reay, Gail Sanders, Susan Schlesinger and Linda Valenti. Each received a certificate and nametag to mark the achievement.

“Master gardener interns are required to complete 70 hours of training. In addition, they must accomplish at least 60 volunteer hours, and many surpassed that number,” Navrotski said. “Our newly inducted master gardeners showed true dedication to DuPage County and enthusiasm for the program.”

In addition, the master gardeners received anniversary certificates, and some received commemorative pins to signify milestone years with the program, Navrotski said.

Five-year certificates and Master Gardener lady bug pins went to: Judi Davenport, Barb DeCanio, Jim Green, Cynthia Herrera-Lindstrom, Deb Hornell, Mary Kelly, Linda Kunesh, Dave Lien, Mary Ann Norton, Karen Pachyn, Ruth Richter, Suellyn Scharping, Carolyn Simek, Sue Viravec, Cynthia Ward, Logan Wasson, and Nancy Zorn. Master Gardener Sandy Lentz received her 15-year, strawberry pin, and Patricia Hussey and Paul Stoffels marked 20 years of service with a water lily pin.

Also celebrating more than two decades of service were Ron Ory with 21 years, Carol Sherby with 23 years, and Betty Jeppsen with 28 years.

“We have a strong master gardener program in DuPage County,” Navrotski said.

Both new and experienced volunteers earned recognition for putting in more than 100 hours of service this year. Seven even surpassed the 200-hour and 300-hour marks:

200-plus service hours: Barb DeCanio, Jan Gricus, Jeppsen, Julie Moore and Ron Ory.

300-plus service hours: Jan Hanson and Linda Kunesh.

Throughout the evening, Navrotski also handed out several other honors, including advanced certificates in ecology to Michael Horsley, Heidi Sila and Ron Ory; recognition for state awards to Hanson for Sustained Excellence and Kunesh for Outstanding Master Gardener; and recognition for an International Award to the DuPage Convalescent Center volunteer team of Gail Blessing, Eileen Connolly, DeCanio, Ellen Finegan, Gricus, Marilyn Holysz, Horsley, Jan Hummel, Dick Kaleba, Kunesh, Maris Listello, Moore, Norton, Pachyn, Fritz Porter, Donna Ryan, Joe Sable, Jeff Schroder, Bonnie Spark and Viravec.

“This sensational volunteer crew achieved a momentous year for our program, providing thousands of hours of service and achieving both state and international awards,” Navrotski said.

The master gardener help desk will be open for calls again in March. Contact Navrotski at sarahnav@illinois.edu or visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/.

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