The University of Illinois Extension would like to congratulate Livingston County Master Gardener, Cathy Montgomery, for being recognized as a 2016 Outstanding Illinois Master Gardener. Retired school teacher turned Master Gardener volunteer; she has continued her life's work of making a difference in the community and touching the lives of our area youth through horticulture education.
In her short tenure as a Master Gardener, her volunteer services and contributions to the Master Gardener program have more than exceeded expectations for this award. The Outstanding Master Gardener Award was established to honor the best of Illinois Master Gardeners. Only the top 2% of Illinois State Master Gardeners receive this award annually. They must exceed in leadership, determination, positivity, initiative and be highly involved in the program.Fellow Master Gardener, Paula Trainor-Rosenbaum, nominated Cathy for the award, stating, "Cathy is one of the most cooperative, innovative and reliable members in the county."
"Upon entering the program, her skills were immediately put to use," says University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup, "by assisting staff in bringing together a youth enrichment program for Livingston County. She helped design curriculum, set learning objectives and trained her fellow Master Gardeners on presenting programs on seed germination, insects and pollination. She has been a vital connection between what teachers need in the classroom and how Master Gardener volunteers can help."Last year Master Gardeners reached over 100 youth in three different schools through this program.This year Cathy is at it again, visiting six classrooms; she will include a new lesson on Energy and Matter to satisfy the needs of the grade five science curriculum.
Additionally, she has shown strong guidance by leading the Flanagan Elementary School Garden program and has renovated the Yost House's heirloom garden. "Without her singular effort in these Master Gardener outreach programs they would not be the success they are today," says Allsup.
In the Flanagan Elementary School Garden program, Cathy led the students in planting a pizza garden and a sunflower house that, later in the season, they were able to sample. She has helped the school start a pollinator haven by planting perennials and bulbs. Paula Trainor-Rosenbaum says, "the students are always very enthusiastic about working with Cathy." This past Arbor Day she led the school in planting a tree for the celebration.The Yost House garden has been revitalized with new heirloom plantings. Cathy has used McLean County Master Gardeners' Sarah's Garden project at the David Davis Mansion to guide her in her research and has committed herself to leading educational programs through this beautiful and educational garden.
If you see Cathy working in the gardens or teaching in the schools, make sure to thank her for her outstanding efforts in improving her community and helping others learn to grow.