NAPERVILLE, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension of DuPage County recognized its Master Gardeners with the 28th Annual Master Gardener Celebration in November at the DuPage Care Center, one of the Master Gardener program sites. To date, the volunteer group had already completed 9,903 hours of service for 2019.

In addition, the group of 130 volunteers directly reached thousands through 13 community projects, 20 speaking engagements, and 26 mobile help desks. The Master Gardeners also helped grow and harvest 2,210 pounds of produce donated to area food pantries.

“It has been amazing to see our enthusiastic, generous volunteers serve DuPage County communities with a variety of projects and services,” said Karen Davis, Master Gardener Program Coordinator, who joined University of Illinois Extension in April. “These trained Master Gardeners share their own time and talents through the Master Gardener Help Desk, service projects, community gardens, youth programs, therapeutic horticulture, heritage work and more.”

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners have served DuPage County communities for more than 40 years, making the group one of the first volunteer corps of its kind in Illinois. Examples of their work include: the Anne M. Jeans School Garden; Bloomingdale Community Garden; Cantigny Veterans Garden; Cass Junior High School program; Downers Grove Heritage Garden; Downers Grove North High School horticulture therapy program; DuPage County Care Center horticulture therapy program; Garden Help Line and mobile Help Desks; Graue Mill program; Kline Creek Farm, Naperville Community Garden; Ronald McDonald House; Western DuPage Special Recreation Association Rec and Roll; We Grow Dreams; Worms in the Classroom; speakers bureau educational presentations; and docent services for Cantigny Park.

At the recognition event, those volunteers who reached milestones with the program received special recognition and/or commemorative pins to mark the achievement. Master Gardeners Carol Sherby of Wheaton is retiring and was honored for 29 years with the volunteer program. Those celebrating anniversaries were (listed in alphabetical order by anniversary): 25 years – Larry States of Naperville; 20 years – Patricia Kosmach of Addison, Debra McCullough of Naperville and Mary Toohey of Wheaton; 15 years – Ginny Carlson of Lombard, Mike Horsley of West Chicago, Ann Klingele of Glen Ellyn, Pat Menzenberger of Glen Ellyn, Loraine Miranda of Wheaton, and Laurie Policastro of Burr Ridge; 10 years – Nancy Bell of Glen Ellyn; and 5 years – Marlene Ashby of Carol Stream, Jerry Dungan of Aurora, Susan Peelo of Medinah and Sally Wiarda of Wheaton.

In addition, Extension celebrated 29 Master Gardener interns who were elevated to the official rank of Certified Master Gardener in 2019. They are (listed in alphabetical order by town): Burr Ridge – Judith Dykema; Carol Stream – Peggy Laraia, and Ana Maria Trbojevich; Downers Grove – Bob Long and Pat McGrath; Glen Ellyn – Deb Giampoli, Lauren Heller, Kelley Kalinich, and Terry Prouty; Hanover Park – Patti Chipman; Hinsdale – Sue Virgili and Nancy Wichter; Lisle – Cynthia Badtke and Nancy Heath; Lombard – Ron Fruin and Susan Willoughby; Naperville – Cynthia Cieckiewicz, Mary Kelly, Sue Loh, Sandi Pufahl, Kalyanee Vaidya, Loral Valley and Sandy Youngstrom; Roselle – Cheryl Svee; West Chicago – Mary Krystinak; Wheaton – Nancy Douglas and Diane Fisher; Willowbrook – Jan Synowiecki; and Winfield – Randa Duncan. Each received a certificate and nametag to mark the achievement.

Master Gardener interns are required to complete 70 hours of training. In addition, they must accomplish at least 60 volunteer hours, and many surpassed 100, 200 and 300 hours even. These volunteers received recognition and a small token of appreciation:

  • 100-plus: Marlene Ashby; Cynthia Badtke; Chris Daniele of Downers Grove; Linda Dickerson of Roselle; Nancy Douglas of Wheaton; Lin Drogos of Roselle; Ellen Finegan of Lisle; Ron Fruin; Deb Giampoli; Pat Kosmach; Leslie Mabbott of Roselle; Kathleen Madej of Lombard; Pat Menzenberger; Tsue Ostermann of Elmhurst; Karen Pachyn of Elmhurst; Fritz Porter of Glen Ellyn; Paul Stoffels of Glen Ellyn; Kathy Sudaz of Medinah; Cheryl Svee; June Vandervest of Downers Grove; Sue Viravec of Huntley; Logan Wasson of Naperville; Elaine Weil of Downers Grove; Nancy Wichter; and Sandra Youngstrom.
  • 200-plus: Carol Burck of Hinsdale; Jerry Dungan; Jan Gricus of Naperville; and Jan Hanson of Bartlett.
  • 300-plus: Linda Kunesh and Gail Sanders, both of Carol Stream.

“We have a vigorous Master Gardener program in DuPage County,” Davis said. “Both our seasoned and new volunteers show true dedication to our communities and our neighbors. It’s truly special how these individuals give back to help others learn to grow.”

The Master Gardener Help Desk will be open for calls again in the spring of 2020. For more information on the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program in DuPage County, visit https://go.illinois.edu/DuPageCountyMasterGardeners