CORVALLIS, Ore. – More than 40 dedicated Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener volunteers have been recognized for service to their counties and communities.
The awardees are among the nearly 3,000 Master Gardeners who work with Extension to share their knowledge of sustainable gardening practices across 27 Oregon counties. In 2019, volunteers put in 221,423 hours.
The OSU Master Gardener program and the Oregon Master Gardener Association, a nonprofit that supports the program, sponsor the annual awards, which are decided on by a committee of Gail Langellotto, statewide Master Gardener coordinator, the OMGA president-elect and past winners of the Statewide Behind the Scenes award.
Statewide Master Gardener of the Year: Barbara Davidson of Jackson County
The Statewide Master Gardener of the Year is the highest honor given to an individual Master Gardener volunteer. This award recognizes an individual’s leadership, impact and support of the program’s educational mission. This year’s recipient is Barbara Davidson from Jackson County.
Davidson has been a Master Gardener volunteer for 16 years, during which she has volunteered more than 7,500 hours. Her diverse volunteer portfolio includes chairing committees that award grants to support school gardens and scholarships to local horticulture students. She often leads the fundraising efforts needed to support sustainable gardening outreach and educational projects, and has been a president of the Jackson County Master Gardener Association and secretary and historian of the Oregon Master Gardener Association. Davidson’s volunteerism is always focused on the greater good, rather than personal gain. She is a trusted and valued volunteer, who can always be counted on to help with tasks big or small.
Statewide Behind the Scenes Award: Michael O’Loughlin of Yamhill County
The Statewide Behind the Scenes award recognizes an individual who has made substantial contributions to the Master Gardener program in ways that may not be apparent to fellow volunteers or the gardening community. This year’s recipient is Michael O’Loughlin of Yamhill County.
O’Loughlin has been a Master Gardener since 2014. Since then, he has mentored new Master Gardener students, participated on the Yamhill County Master Gardener insect committee, taught classes in entomology and garden pollinators, served as a local expert for garden beetle or herpetology questions, and contributed articles to the Master Gardener newsletter. He has also designed, consulted on, and/or built nine school gardens across the state, including a pollinator garden at Mary Wood Elementary School in Tigard. In the six years that O’Loughlin has been a Master Gardener, he has accomplished a tremendous amount of work that benefits gardeners across the state. Although many people may be familiar with his work, many do not know that O’Loughlin is the force behind them.
County Master Gardeners of the Year:
Benton County: Rich Taylor enthusiastically takes on any project that crosses his path, ranging from development of the Benton County Master Gardener Association website to being the go-to soil and compost delivery person in the demonstration garden. He serves on the board of directors and is an integral part of the Gearing Up for Gardening presentations by recording and posting online every lecture. His always-positive attitude is vital to garden design decisions, irrigation and maintenance.
Renee Taylor has served on the executive committee and as Central Gorge Master Gardener Association president, newsletter publisher and chaired the annual garden tour. She stepped in to a significant hands-on role last August after the county’s loss of its program assistant. Taylor led a small advisory group to coordinate classroom sessions for 2019 and all plans for 2020.
Christie Bradley brought her technology skills when they were needed the most, creating virtual plant clinics online allowing for volunteers to continue to serve the community during COVID-19. She has served as secretary of the board since 2011.
Central Oregon: Central Oregon’s growing membership can be traced to much of the work of Kathleen Geary. Geary has worked diligently in several community gardens, rising to whatever need was at hand. Her voice may be familiar thanks to her gardening recordings on local radio station KPOV-FM, and her writing and broadcasts have contributed to the Gardening: Get Good At It team. Geary also has served on the Central Oregon Master Gardener Association board of directors.
Coos (no photo): Dorothy ‘Dottie’ Tucker is the backbone behind the Coos County Master Gardener plant sale, hosting seed-starting classes for trainees, growing hundreds of plants, serving on the plant sale committee and working at the sale. She’s also been the alternate Oregon Master Gardener Association representative for three years.
Curry: The Dig Your Library garden series for young people at the Brookings Library is the result of the good work of Julia Bott. In addition, she’s worked with the library to integrate gardening into their formal story time, complete with garden beds for kids to plant milkweed for the monarchs, seeds and vegetables. She has held the board position of vice president and collaborated to start the Chetco Seed Library.
Douglas: Fred Alley’s work with the Master Gardener program runs deep and broad, including teaching and supporting educational programs and fundraising efforts. Known as the “tool man” he works in the Discovery Garden and created garden art in the Victory Garden. His photographs are often published in the chapter newsletter. In total, Alley has volunteered over 2,500 hours, as well as served as chapter vice president.
Jackson: John Kobal, Steve Hassen, Bill Elliot and Doug Kirby have made significant impact on the greenhouse, operations and management plans of the Jackson County Master Gardener’s Association. Their work on improving the greenhouse greatly increased classwork on greenhouse management, and their physical improvements to the greenhouse directly supported the growth and sales of plants at the annual plant sale. In addition, Kobal is a speaker with the speaker’s bureau; Hassen supports operations for the Spring Garden Fair and repairs in the garden; Kirby is in charge of the Perennials Demonstration gardens; and Elliot oversees temperature and watering systems in the greenhouses.
Josephine: Joan Foley is often the person new Master Gardeners interact with, as she serves as student mentor and coordinator. She has supported and led the chapter perennial program and many fundraising efforts. She’s a regular contributor to the newsletter and serves as plant clinic volunteer. Since becoming a Master Gardener in 2014, Foley consistently volunteers 150 hours each year.
Klamath (no photo): Dennie Dunkeson was born in the Klamath Basin in 1945 and has lived there all his life. Having been a hobby gardener much of this time, he joined the Master Gardener program three years ago to find out “why my plants kept dropping dead.” Dennie soon learned how to find answers to his questions, and quickly stepped up to manage the mobile plant clinic held at the local farmer’s market each summer and fall.
Lane: A Master Gardener since 2011, Jeff Muir helped grow the plant clinic to include plant problem diagnosis and has also served as plant clinic trainer. He helped to organize the Plant Diagnostic Specialist Committee, served as its co-chair, and developed protocol for training classes. Muir has served on the Lane County Master Gardener Association board as well as specialist groups, including compost, pruning and tree fruits.
Lincoln: While Marlene Shapiro is famous for the 10-foot tomato plant she grew in the Yachats Demonstration and Community Garden greenhouse, she has been integral to the Lincoln County Master Gardener Association in countless ways. She’s served on the board and multiple committees and has volunteered at three of the five demonstration gardens. She is a prolific grower of plants as well as a hands-on organizer for the annual plant sale. Her organizational and leadership skills benefit not only the Roundtable Gardening Series, but also the program overall.
Linn: Karin Magnuson’s computer skills have brought great impact to the Albany Through the Garden Gate garden tour fundraiser. She interviewed garden owners and created the ticket brochure and maps for the event as well as provided technology support for the BEEvent Pollinator conference. Magnuson teaches classes, serves on the board and is a constant collaborator.
Multnomah: Jack Lazareck’s calm and steady leadership of the Multnomah County Master Gardener Association has aligned chapter activities and goals with its mission, ensuring all voices are heard and valued. Lazareck has also served on the metro area Master Gardener’s Liaison committee, and the Scholarship and Fellowship committee.
Marion: Elaine Smith is involved in many areas of garden education, from teaching in the prison system to mentoring at plant clinics to assisting with the Junior Master Gardener Program. She has provided extensive technology assistance and guidance, including developing tools for communicating during COVID-19. Smith has volunteered over 6,000 hours since becoming a Master Gardener in 2008.
Polk: As board president for the past two years, Bobbie Muncrief has encouraged personal involvement and connection, developing processes for engagement as well as picking up the phone and making calls herself. Her skills are put to work propagating for plant sales as well as conducting training classes. Muncrief consistently volunteers more than 400 hours a year.
Umatilla (No Photo): Joe Hodge lifts everyone up around him, whether it’s responding to community gardening questions, being the first to volunteer when there’s a need, or providing transportation to local meetings to ensure Umatilla representation. Hodge teaches Seed to Supper classes and brings educational opportunities to his work in the community garden. This year he designed a plot specifically to show how herbs could be used in the home garden.
Union (no photo): Cindy Frick has been a Master Gardener for a decade and a part-time OSU Master Gardener coordinator for the past three years. She has helped recruit and train over 50 Master Gardeners and as a response this year to COVID-19, Frick quickly moved the training program online. She regularly staffs the plant clinics at the La Grande Farmers Market and community festivals. Frick built and maintains the demonstration garden at the Extension office and this year is retiring from her coordinator position: she will be missed in the office.
Yamhill: Susanne Beukema brings project management and hands-on skills to her work as Plant Sale committee chair, a position she’s served for the past three years. Her work overhauling the plant sale signup book has brought greater efficiency to the plant sale, and her writing and editing can be seen on the chapter website and in the resource manual. Beukema served as president-elect of the chapter last year and is president this year.
Washington: Much of the new and revised educational outreach materials the Washington County Master Gardeners use for adult and children programming is due to the work of Susan Albright. Gardenfest, Spidermania, plant information cards and self-guided tours all are thanks to her skills. Albright has served on the board and as representative to the statewide OMGA. She’s currently the lead on the new Pacific Northwest Natives Pollinator Hedgerow Project, which demonstrates to home gardeners the use of drought-tolerant, native plants that support pollinator habitat.
County Behind the Scenes Awards
Benton County: The increased success of the plant sales by Benton County Master Gardeners Association can clearly be seen in the work by Lisa Borgerson. By developing a database, Borgerson has improved plant sale profitability and the accuracy of labeling, reducing the number of unsold plants. Tracking the thousands of plants sold over the course of five years is tedious but incredible work. She leads the group growing hundreds of perennials as well as personally trials hundreds herself, all the while working with humor, flexibility and energy.
Faced with staffing changes and COVID-19, Anne Saxby has greatly impacted the success and ongoing work of plant clinics. Her collaborative spirit has ensured the clinic is staffed and new Master Gardeners are mentored. With the onset of COVID-19 she has helped the committee transition to a virtual plant clinic.
Shari Bosler is integral to ongoing communication from and with the local Master Gardeners, whether it’s reaching out to potential speakers or contacting past and current members about their involvement. In addition, Bosler chaired the speaker’s committee for the 2020 Oregon Master Gardener Mini College and her statewide involvement with the Oregon Master Gardener Association has brought back new ideas for the local chapter.
Coos: Jessie Milligan’s love of writing and gardening has tripled the reach of the Coos County Master Gardener Facebook page over the past year. In addition, she started a newsletter for the gardeners of her local community garden, featuring stories and tips from the Master Gardeners. As a steady presence at the plant clinic, Milligan supports new trainees with encouragement and support.
Curry (No Photo): You can find Ruth Patton every week at the greenhouse helping propagate and care for the plants of the annual plant sale. As board treasurer, she streamlined financial systems and stepped up to co-lead the ABC Preschool Garden Program when the program was left without staff. She staffs and attends many chapter events and even recruited her neighbor to become a Master Gardener in 2020.
Douglas: Kathy and Steve Hart volunteer extensively in many programs and greenhouse activities, but their concerted efforts with the pollinator garden at the Discovery Garden have an incredible impact. They even built and installed an onsite children’s library. Steve’s work with the greenhouse construction committee has meant numerous improvements to the facilities, including rebuilding the largest storage building in the learning center. Together, they’ve put in over 2,000 hours of volunteer service in the six years since becoming master gardeners.
Jackson: Dee Copley is a community steward and figurehead for the Seed to Supper program. She plans, organizes, recruits and markets between six to eight six-week courses each year, bringing hands-on gardening education to roughly 85 Jackson County members. Her hard work navigating county permitting processes helped make the recent greenhouse project a reality.
Josephine (No Photo): Jeana Schorr has increased visibility of the Master Gardener programs and events through her incredible promotion work including radio, print, social media and even the street banners in downtown Grants Pass. As an insect specialist, she served on the team creating plant clinic displays and for the Oregon Bee Atlas she has curated and identified over 100 bees. She is one of the first to qualify as a Master Melittologist.
Klamath (No Photo): Douglas Bright has loved gardening all of his life and wanted to find the best way to solve garden problems. The hands-on training and science-based approach of the Master Gardener program appealed to him. Through the service component of the program, he connected with neighbors, friends and the larger community.
Lane: Vicki Harrison has consistently chaired or co-chaired the Fall Festival since becoming a Master Gardener in 2015, helping to coordinate the many volunteers that make the event possible. She’s served on the chapter board, and as a plant diagnostic specialist helped form the soil testing group. She’s currently working to develop the virtual plant clinic in response to COVID-19.
Lincoln: Carita Edson is a hard-working and knowledgeable gardening presence in the Yachats community garden, keeping a watchful eye on the garden thanks to her daily walks. She has served on the chapter board, as co-coordinator of the children’s gardening program and participates in many greenhouse and garden activities from weeding to watering to planting spring seedlings.
Linn: While Jean Hamilton has only been a Master Gardener since 2019, her work has impacted many projects, including the LCMGA Demonstration Garden, Albany garden tour and the BEEvent pollinator conference. In addition, she mentors new trainees and has staffed plant clinics at farmer’s markets and the Linn County Fair.
Marion: Jane Sommers embodies sustainable gardening practices through education, presentation development, technology and process guidance, and the development of 15-minute topics that are used at public events. She welcomes fellow Master Gardeners to her home for hands-on experiences in sustainable horticulture practices.
Linda Goldser has brought energy and commitment to many projects, especially for the Growing, Educating and Connecting Communities committee, training classes and chapter events. Her work in the demonstration garden has included leadership, planning and writing for the newsletter.
Dennis Brown is a sought-after speaker for the Multnomah Speakers Guild, presenting at home and garden shows, farmer’s markets and community fairs. He created a unique community partnership between June Key Delta, a community service organization, VOZ, a nonprofit organization supporting day laborers and immigrant workers, and the Multnomah Master Gardener Association, bringing restoration to an outdoor garden area at June Key Delta.
Christine Semeniuk has been integral in the finance and technology needs of the chapter, serving as board treasurer, bookkeeper and support for researching, purchasing and installation of equipment for the helpline. Her guidance in developing financial procedures for fundraisers has been invaluable, and she’s a regular at farmers markets.
Polk: Sharon McVey has worked diligently and collaboratively to improve and organize the Master Gardener training program, specifically in mentorship for new Master Gardeners. She grows plants for the plant sale, even organizing plant pickup from her home when the 2020 sale was cancelled due to COVID-19. She is dedicated to promoting sustainable gardening and permaculture practices with one-on-one or small group trainings.
The propagation and plant care at the Jenkins greenhouse is led by Jacque Myers, including coordination of donations and volunteers. These are the plants sold at the annual plant sale and the work is almost year-round. She’s designed the plant propagation as a workshop for new Master Gardeners, and she also co-leads the class on propagation by stem cuttings for the In the Garden series. (No photo)
Yamhill: Becoming a Master Gardener in 2019, Gin Galt wasted no time in committing herself to educational events and committees, including the Spring into Gardening event and the insect committee. She’s become instrumental in organizing registrations and is a mentor for new trainees of 2020, working to keep them in touch with each other and the program during COVID-19. She is currently president-elect and will serve as chapter president in 2021.