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University of Illinois Extension

DuPage Master Gardeners Earn International Excellence Award

September 17, 2013

Volunteer Group Takes Second Place for Work at Convalescent Center

SEATTLE, Wash. – The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners of DuPage County received second-place honors during the International Master Gardener Committee's (IMGC) Search for Excellence Awards on Saturday, Sept. 7. The announcement was made at the IMGC Conference on Holland America's Westerdam cruise ship.

The DuPage County group was recognized for their "Gardening Year Round" community project at the DuPage Convalescent Center (DPCC) in Wheaton, which earned them second place in the Special Needs Audience category.

"Gardening Year Round is a collaborative project that brings together University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and community members, clubs and businesses to improve the quality of life of residents at a county-operated nursing home," said Sarah Navrotski, Program Coordinator for Master Gardeners in DuPage County. "We have had an amazing corps of knowledgeable, compassionate volunteers working on this effort, which began in 2009."

Master Gardener Linda Kunesh of Carol Stream helps lead the project, which works closely with the DPCC's own programming. "An integral part of DPCC's recreation therapy is therapeutic horticulture that encourages residents to remain vigorous and engages them intellectually, physically and creatively," she said. "It is a natural fit for University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners involvement."

The DPCC serves more than 330 residents, ages 23 to 106, who have long-term medical needs or significant disabilities. For 30 years, DPCC has had a Resident Garden Club where 50 residents each year participate in gardening activities.

The Gardening Year Round program enhances the horticultural therapy program in the DPCC Resident Garden and provides additional opportunities for all DPCC residents by providing gardening-related activities through the calendar year, including non-traditional gardening months November through March.

"Through garden activities, crafts, special events and more, this group has made a real difference in the lives of DPCC residents," Kunesh said.

Other University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners participating include: Gail Blessing, Eileen Connolly, Barb DeCanio, Ellen Finegan, Jan Gricus, Marilyn Holysz, Mike Horsley, Jan Hummel, Dick Kaleba, Maris Listello, Julie Moore, Mary Ann Norton, Karen Pachyn, Fritz Porter, Donna Ryan, Joe Sable, Jeff Schoder, Bonnie Spark, and Sue Viravec.

The Gardening Year Round works closely with DPCC, garden volunteers, the Bloomingdale Garden Club, Prosek's Greenhouse, Platt Hill Nursery, Midwest Groundcovers, Cantigny Park, College of DuPage Horticulture Department, Flowers by Design floral wholesaler, and many individuals, to make it all happen, said Navrotski.

For more information on the Master Gardener program in DuPage County, contact Program Coordinator Sarah Navrotski at sarahnav@illinois.edu or visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.


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