The University of Illinois Extension would like to congratulate McLean County Master Gardeners Diane Boeck, Lenore Clark, Tom Creswell, Pat Epsicokhan, Lucy Kelly and Sharon O'Neall for being recognized with the 2016 Outstanding State Master Gardener award. The Outstanding State Award was established to honor the best of Illinois Master Gardeners. Only the top 2% of Illinois State Master Gardeners win this award annually. They must exceed in leadership, determination, positivity, initiative and be highly involved in the program.
McLean County Master Gardeners Judy Hines and Paul Klecha are recipients of the 2016 Sustained Excellence Award. The Sustained Excellence Award was established to honor Illinois Master Gardeners who have previously received the Outstanding Award and have continued to demonstrate distinction in the program. Both Judy and Paul have proven to be exceptional examples of Master Gardeners. Only 12 of these awards were given this year throughout the entire state.
The McLean County Master Gardener Help Desk received a Master Gardener State Teamwork Award. This award was established to honor projects which have made a difference in the community or Extension unit. The group of Master Gardeners had to show a focused team approach to a project, innovation and improving an existing project to serve their community better. McLean County Master Gardeners part of this team were Michaela Kent, Shelley Schultz, Mary Dellorto, Jaci Dixon, Sara Bailey, Mary Jane Bohall, Rita Buczyna, Tracy Burr, Phyllis Doran, Julian Gorski, Margaret Hollowell, Nancy Komlanc, Judy Miller, Sharon O'Neall and Pat Warren.The Master Gardener Help Desk is set up to assist the community by answering questions on all of their gardening woes. Hundreds of questions are asked including, "What is wrong with my tree?" or "What is this insect?" It can be intimidating to be a new Master Gardener intern having to solve a multitude of problems and giving answers to a community of gardening questions. In 2013, the Help Desk committee performed a needs assessment survey to determine areas of discomfort for those working with the public in the help desk and identify training gaps. Office procedures, plant identification resources, and plant disease diagnosis emerged as areas of discomfort and became designated committees. Upon working with Master Gardeners with additional training, updated forms and office procedures, as well as mentoring, consumers of the Help Desk had a 98% satisfaction rate with the help desk in addition to Master Gardeners feeling more efficient while working the help desk.