4,500 Hours of Community Service — U of I Extension Honors Kane County Master Gardeners

4,500 Hours of Community Service — U of I Extension Honors Kane County Master Gardeners


Seventeen interns were elevated to the official rank of Certified Master Gardener in Kane County (not all pictured). Each received a certificate and nametag to commemorate the achievement, which required completion of 60 hours of training and at least 60 hours of volunteer time. (CREDIT: University of Illinois Extension)

Seventeen interns were elevated to the rank of Certified Master Gardener while a dozen more of Kane County’s gardening experts received well-earned awards and recognition for decades of community service during the 2016 University of Illinois Extension awards and appreciation night.


Kane County Master Gardeners Leslie LeResche of Batavia (left) and Mary Jo Murphy of St. Charles were honored for 25 years and 30 years of service, respectively, during the annual appreciation event at University of Illinois Extension in October. (CREDIT: University of Illinois Extension)

In total, volunteers contributed more than 4,500 hours of service for 2016.

“They already have surpassed last year by 1,000 hours, and we still have two months left this year!” said Sarah Fellerer, Master Gardener Program coordinator. “University of Illinois Extension truly appreciates these knowledgeable and giving volunteers and all they do to serve our Kane County communities.”

Master Gardeners share their own time and talents through the Master Gardener Help Desk, the Idea Garden, the Sherman Community Garden, and other community gardens, service projects and workshops throughout the year. The annual appreciation event recognizes both newly certified Master Gardeners, as well as those with milestone years of service, Fellerer said.

Seventeen interns were elevated to the official rank of Certified Master Gardener in Kane County, including Virginia Albertino and Julia Barickman of Aurora; Fely Arnold, Cindy Bechtold, Carol Lussky, Karen Mathews, Sue Schulz, Ron Usselman of Elgin; Joan Burden of Gilberts; Linda Goll, Kara King, and Jim McKelvie of St. Charles; Kara Justice and Jennifer Tonn of Batavia; Amy Parise of Geneva; Eileen Reger of Elburn; and Deborah Walters-Kaske of Carpentersville. Each received a certificate and nametag to commemorate the achievement.

“Master Gardener interns are required to complete 60 hours of training and at least 60 hours of volunteer time,” Fellerer said. “It makes for a busy year, but our newly-inducted Master Gardeners show both dedication and enthusiasm for the program and county residents’ needs.”

In addition, many Master Gardeners received anniversary certificates and commemorative pins to mark their years with the program. Hitting the greatest milestones this year were Mary Jo Murphy of St. Charles and Leslie LeResche of Batavia, who celebrated 30 years and 25 years as Master Gardeners, respectively. Both volunteers also received a calla lily in thanks for their service.

Marking 15 years of service were Tico Conover of St. Charles, Nancy Steinke of St. Charles, and Diana Stoll of Elgin, and 10-year pins were earned by Ellen Bassett and Marge Clark of Geneva, Pat Harrer of Elgin, Linda Lood of Sleepy Hollow, and Ruth Ann Seney and Sheila Tustin of St. Charles.

In addition, five-year pins went to Donna Arendt of Carpentersville; Susan Brauhn, Maureen Knudsen and Vicki Williams Batavia; Diane Broecker of Elburn; Susan Garcia and Kim Kucik of Aurora; Margaret-ann Haas of Algonquin; Sarah Marcheschi and Kathleen Smigielski of Geneva; Darlie Simerson of St. Charles; and Jim Stendler, Cherryl Strathmann and Carolyn Stropoli of Elgin.

“We have a strong Master Gardener program in Kane County, and that is due in part to the example our seasoned Master Gardeners set and the mentorship they provide,” Fellerer said. “They are as dependable, eager and passionate as any new recruit, and they have the extended knowledge and experience to complement their drive.”

In fact, both new and longtime volunteers earned recognition for putting in more than 100 hours of service in 2016. Honorees were: Patsy Hirsch of Elgin, 334.25 hours; Sue Styer of Geneva,181.5; Susan Brauhn of Batavia, 153.5; Carol Lussky, 147.5; Paula Altekruse of St. Charles, 145.5; Joan Burden, 136; Margaret-ann Haas, 118.75; Cindy Bechtold, 116.5; Linda Lood, 115; Karen Mathews, 109; Lorayne Hrejsa of Batavia, 106; and Jennifer Tonn, 103.

Throughout the evening, Fellerer handed out several other honors, including:

  • Advanced training: Sue Styer in Integrated Pest Management; Patsy Hirsch in Sustainable Landscaping; and Jim Schlitz of Hampshire and Debbie Walters-Kaske, both in Ecology.
  • Most Help Desk Hours: Helen Snyder of Sugar Grove, with 46.85 hours
  • Awesome Apple – First Year Award (nominated by fellow volunteers): Amy Parise and Carol Lussky
  • High Yield Award – Gloria Finnerty of Algonquin and Colleen Haas of South Elgin for their living compost wall and phases of the moon garden projects
  • Spuds Potato Award – Donna Arendt for her work at the Sherman Community Garden
  • Apical Dominance –  Ann Carlsen of Batavia for her leadership and coordination of “Dirt Days” program and Sue Styer for motivating activities and educational skills at many projects throughout the year, including Idea Garden, Speakers’ Bureau and Herman the Worm

Fellerer also recognized several Kane County volunteers as state award recipients, who were announced at a state event in August. Hirsch earned an individual State Outstanding Master Gardener Award for her work at the Sherman Community Garden, and the 2015 Idea Garden group earned a State Teamwork Award.

The October season-end celebration also marks the end of the year for the Master Gardener Help Desk. It will be open for calls again in March of 2016. For more information on the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/.

University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

SOURCE: University of Illinois Extension news release