Macon County Master Gardeners receive state awards

DECATUR, Ill. — University of Illinois Extension's State Master Gardener Program has named two Macon County Master Gardeners and a Macon County Master Gardener teamwork project as state award winners. The winners will be recognized September 10 during the virtual awards ceremony that will feature a video showcase of the winning teamwork projects and educational guest speakers.

Marilyn Oftedal from Decatur will be recognized as a State Outstanding Master Gardener award winner. The State Outstanding Master Gardener award was established to honor the best of Illinois Master Gardeners. Only 1 to 2 percent of active Master Gardeners in the state are recognized with this award annually. Marilyn began her service as a Macon County Master Gardener in 2010 and has logged more than 644 hours of volunteer service.

"Marilyn has demonstrated her leadership in several areas of the Master Gardener program," says Master Gardener Extension Program Coordinator Julia Duncan. "Her enthusiastic personality and dedication draw others to participate."

Marilyn has served on the Advisory Board from 2012 to 2014. She currently serves in a leadership position on the Heritage Garden Committee since 2019.

Deb McFarling from Moweaqua will be recognized with the Sustained Excellence State Master Gardener Award. The Sustained Excellence State Master Gardener award is given to previous State Outstanding Master Gardener Award winners who have continued to develop in their Master Gardener career with new responsibilities and initiatives. Deb has been a Macon County Master Gardener since 2008 and has logged more than 1,220.35 volunteer hours.

"Deb is involved in many facets of the Master Gardener Program," says Duncan. "She is an experienced Master Gardener who recently took the initiative to start a planning committee which intakes critical input from the Master Gardeners that will guide future programming. Her leadership is invaluable."

Deb served on the Macon County Master Gardener Advisory Board from 2009 to 2016 and the State Master Gardener Advisory Board from 2013 to 2019. She has served as Vice Chair to the Macon County Master Gardeners this past year and will advance her position to Chair this year. She was the recipient of a State Outstanding Master Gardener award in 2011.

The Macon County Gardening Insights team will receive the State Master Gardener Teamwork Award. The State Master Gardener Teamwork Award recognizes Master Gardener projects that are impactful, innovative, and replicable statewide. Nancy Derby, Ruby Mathews, Sherry Thomas, and Jacque Wrigley have been involved with this project which promotes awareness, education, and appreciation for gardening.

"Gardening Insights has been an increasingly popular Macon County Master Gardener event because of the outstanding leadership and teamwork," says Duncan. "The team has created strong community outreach and collaboration with partners. Event speakers impart knowledge from industry experts providing education and information to diverse audiences." The Macon County Master Gardener team truly embodies the mission statement of Master Gardeners: 'helping others learn to grow.'

For more information, please email or call (217) 877-6042.

Source: Julia Duncan, Extension Program Coordinator, University of Illinois Extension

Writer: Maria Lightner, Marketing & Communications, University of Illinois Extension