2014 Year in Review

University of Illinois Extension horticulture programs inspired citizens in local communities to grow their own food and improve their home landscapes. Here are a few examples of how our programs impacted the residents of Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties ion 2014.

High quality, impactful programs taught homeowners how to create energy efficient landscapes using sustainable practices that increase property values. Landscaping may be your best long-term investment. Properly placed trees save homeowners $100 to $250 a year in energy costs. Landscape plantings can increase home property values by up to 20% or more.

Master Volunteers helped Washington tornado victims with disaster cleanup, tree inventories, and tree planting. We provided information to impacted homeowners on how to remove debris safely and plan for a new landscape.

Traditional programs, media, social media, garden day events, fair booths and more taught citizens about the Emerald Ash Borer pest invasion and other plant problems. We helped sixteen communities prepare for the emerald ash borer (EAB) at an Emerald Ash Borer Community Preparedness Planning Workshop. The thirty participants included local officials, municipalities, park districts, arborists, and others impacted by the recent emerald ash borer findings in Peoria and Tazewell counties.

Master Gardener projects and speakers bureau instructed youth and adults how to grow food in their backyards and in community gardens. Most of the projects are "Giving Gardens" that grow produce to give to food pantries and other community centers. In 2014 over 10,000 pounds were donated to local food pantries.

Working with partners, horticultural professionals were kept current at symposiums and workshops. The ProHort Symposium held at ICC in March provided updates on the use of native plants, the impact of the 2012 drought on plants, plant pests, and new plants to try.

All in all in 2014, over a hundred presentations provided more than 20,000 people with a direct horticultural message, with even more reached through ILRiverHort social media sites. Program participants learned about lawncare, plant pests, landscaping after a disaster, herbs, native pollinators, bargain gardening, tea gardens, orchids, shade gardens, weed control, pumpkins, and much, much more.

These face-to-face presentations reached approximately 3% of the total population base in the FMPT Unit (up from a less than 1% reach in 2011).

Visit visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/fmpt and learn more about our horticulture program. There you'll find links to my social media pages, blogs, news releases, a calendar of events, and so much more. Happy New Year!