Woodford County welcomes New Master Gardeners

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Woodford County Master Gardeners accept new members

University of Illinois Extension Woodford Master Gardener program welcomes nine new interns to the county. The interns participated in the first Master Gardener training conducted here in Woodford County. They join a group of 15 active Master Gardeners. After completing 11 sessions in all subjects' horticulture, the interns have already started sharing their garden knowledge in the community.

University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup, says the new interns have revitalized the program with fresh gardening endeavors while continuing to support Master Gardener efforts already in progress. Allsup says "We have new goals and the volunteer support for the programs we want to run."

The Woodford County Master Gardeners would like to welcome Donna Beasley of Deer Creek, Shirley Blackburn of Metamora, Tina Deetz of Secor, Gail Hayes of Deer Creek, Greg and Betty McCoy of Metamora, Anita McDaniel of Bloomington, Dennis Slape of Metamora and Colleen Whisker of Gridley. Many of the interns have already assisted with teaching youth and maintaining the school garden at Germantown Hills Middle School.

They have assisted garden leaders, Linda Simpson and Cathy Bandeko, in teaching the third graders how to plant zinnia and marigold seeds while also planting the vegetable garden that will be harvested now as they return for the fourth grade. Linda Simpson, former teacher at Germantown Hills and Woodford County Master Gardener, says "the new people have invigorated the project, giving us a boost. They are already bouncing new ideas off of us and have made garden maintenance a breeze this summer."

Intern, Tina Deetz, decided to take the training this year because it was a wish for after retirement and she liked the concept of the in-person training mixed with at-home modules that made the class flexible. She has already attended the Gardeners' Gathering program, assisted with the Woodford Master Gardener plants sale, taught at the Germantown Hills Middle School garden and assisted in leading a booth at the Woodford 4-H Fair that taught youth about butterflies and lightning bugs. Shirley Blackburn has already helped the Extension office answer questions about fruit trees. Dennis Slape has teamed up with Kelly Allsup and Program Coordinator, Brittnay Haag, to make YouTube videos about pollinators, while also assisting a community center in Peoria revitalize their vegetable garden. Greg and Betty McCoy helped teach third graders at Germantown Hills Middle School the difference between poison ivy and woodland poppy. Gail Hayes and Donna Beasley helped contribute some amazing perennials at the plant sale this year. Colleen Whisker has teamed up with McLean Master Gardeners to provide outdoor garden education in Gridley.