Thirty dedicated Oregon State University Master Gardener volunteers have been recognized for service to their counties and communities.
The awardees are among more than 3,300 people trained by the OSU Extension Service who share their knowledge of sustainable gardening and OSU home horticulture resources.
The OSU Master Gardener program and the Oregon Master Gardener Association, a nonprofit that supports the program, sponsor the annual awards.
Master Gardener of the Year
Jim Liskey of Sublimity was honored as Master Gardener of the Year. During a 10-year stint in the program, Liskey has held an array of leadership positions at both the county and state level, including Oregon Master Gardener Association president. He’s been chair of Master Gardener Mini-College, Search for Excellence committee and Leadership Day. From 2008 to 2011, Liskey was responsible for the Marion County demonstration garden and currently serves as garden maintenance chair and safety coordinator.
The Master Gardener veteran has served as a mentor for four years, helps out at the Plant Clinic desk and has written articles and been interviewed by the local newspaper. He is currently involved with the Junior Master Gardener program, and was extensively involved in the Citizens for Marion County group, which was instrumental in passing the Extension Service district measure in 2015. “He has served OSU Extension and the Marion County Master Gardeners in so many fundamental ways that it is hard to imagine the program without him,” said Gail Langellotto, statewide coordinator of the Master Gardener program.
Behind the Scenes award
Marsha Waite, an accomplished amateur entomologist, has taught Master Gardeners in entomology and integrated pest management in Jackson County for many years. Her enthusiastic contributions to the program help people better understand insects so that they can make informed decisions about pest management in the garden. Waite, a Master Gardener for 21 years, teaches gardeners that by appreciating beneficial insects and recognizing that not all insects are pests they can reduce pesticide use in the garden.
County Master Gardeners of the Year
Benton County: In 2011, Kathy Clark of Corvallis started a xeriscape demonstration garden at the Benton County Fairgrounds. Now she leads teams that plan to add pollinator, deer-resistant and low-maintenance demonstration gardens. Clark has taught with the Plant Problem Scenarios committee, been plant sale chair and co-chair and served on the county Master Gardener Board. She has shared her gardening expertise through talks to Master Gardeners, community garden groups, service clubs and the general public.
Central Gorge: Laurel DeTar and Kathy Lien are co-recipients of this year’s award. DeTar decided to become a Master Gardener in 2009 after participating in planting the Japanese Heritage Garden in Hood River. Lien became a Master Gardener in 2013. DeTar and Lien are co-leaders for the annual plant sale. DeTar oversees the potting parties. Lien organizes the vegetables and other edibles for the plant sale. They also mentor new Master Gardeners, which plays a big role in retaining volunteers.
Central Oregon: Jan Even of Edmond has taught the Master Gardener’s beginning vegetable gardening class and is responsible for spearheading efforts to teach this class in Spanish. As county vice president she organized educational offerings, recruited many of the presenters and came up with a speaker’s tool kit. Among her other contribution, Even provided leadership at the Central Oregon Home & Garden Show and the High Desert Garden Tour. She came up with innovative ways to combine publicity for projects and educational events, which saved money and increased publicity.
Clackamas: Since becoming a Master Gardener in 2010, Dee Linde has volunteered many hours serving clients at the Oregon City Farmer’s Market. In 2014, she served as Clackamas County Master Gardener chapter vice president, was on the annual picnic and the budget and finance committees. In 2015, Linde served as chapter president and on many committees, including the program, audiovisual, membership and nomination and awards teams.
Clatsop: A Master Gardener from Alaska, Pam Holen took the Clatsop County Master Gardener classes within weeks of moving to Astoria in 2009. She built the curriculum for the Growing Healthy Kids gardening program and assisted staff with classes. Holen managed the animal shelter’s pet friendly garden and started the high school’s Fresh Start project. She is now working on a biodiverse garden at Columbia Memorial Hospital. Holen has had an impressive run on the chapter board as treasurer, state representative, vice president and president.
Coos: Since completing their 2010 Master Gardener classes, Donna Rabin and Steve Richardson have been involved in the plant clinic, Coos Bay and Bandon Farmers’ Market clinics, the summer kids program, plant sale, school garden grants, mentor program, Fertilize Your Mind seminar and soil testing committees. As the contact for the Coquille Indian Housing Authority, Donna consults on landscaping and vegetable gardening. Steve served as chapter president in 2014 and 2015.
Curry: After quickly becoming a Master Gardener after moving to Gold Beach in 2012, Carol Hobbs became a driving force in the Riley Creek School Garden. She taught the kids how to propagate succulents and assisted them in making Mother’s Day planters. Hobbs also volunteers at the high school greenhouse, teaching students how to propagate and care for plants. She coordinates helpers, leads students and others in making garden art, and takes on tedious tasks such as watering and making plant labels.
Douglas: Since becoming a Master Gardener in 2009, Toni Rudolph of Roseburg has put in more than 1,500 hours of volunteer service. She has worked in the plant clinic and a satellite clinic at Kruse Farms, the booth at the Douglas County Fair and helped with the annual Spring into Gardening Seminar. For five years, Rudolph has been very active in the Victory Garden, where all produce is donated to the local food bank. She has served as a class mentor and helps with hands-on trainings at the greenhouse. On the board, she has served as chapter treasurer for three years.
Jackson: During the past five years, Scott Goode of Central Point supported Master Gardener education by helping others understand soils and the relationship between healthy soils and successful gardening practices. He taught community education courses in the evening and on Saturdays, and to Master Gardeners in basic training classes. He has co-presented on soil alchemy at the Winter Dreams annual gardening symposium and was the site manager for the 2016 Spring Garden Fair, where he helped establish free walk-in soils testing services. Goode is a member-at-large on the Jackson County Master Gardener Board, and assists with water systems management for the demonstration gardens.
Josephine: Retired entomologist Judi Maxwell of Grants Pass became a Master Gardener three years ago and began teaching classes about insects to Master Gardeners and the community with the goal of promoting reduced insecticide use through better understanding. She also supports new and veteran Master Gardeners in the plant clinic, and leads educational field outings to collect insects that are used in displays and for educational outreach. Maxwell was instrumental in establishing an Insect Specialist Master Gardener track in Josephine County.
Klamath: For three years, Master Gardener Patty Suprenant has been a big part of Mills Community Garden in Klamath Falls. Together with Dewey Moore, Suprenant transformed the garden into a fun site with lots of activities. Today, the sight of kids planting and eating vegetables is common at the garden. She even helped to organize a late-night earwig party at the garden. Suprenant also helps other groups who are interested in starting community gardens by providing advice during the planning stages.
Lane: An active Master Gardener since 2007, Barbara Dumensil of Eugene is a regular volunteer at the plant clinic and an active member of the compost specialist committee. She is a plant diagnostic specialist, and has helped to train new Master Gardeners on diagnostic procedures. Dumensil has served as a Lane County Master Gardener officer for five years as secretary, president-elect, president and past president.
Lincoln: Heather Fortner of Toledo became a Master Gardener in 2013 and has already served as county co-vice president and is currently Oregon Master Gardener Association representative. She leads the ornamental section of the spring plant sale, and has been instrumental in bringing back the monthly newsletter Coastal Currants. As co-vice president, Fortner focused on organizing field trips and hands-on workshops. She also scheduled a computer class for Master Gardeners who wanted to learn PowerPoint to help them teach classes.
Linn: After becoming a Master Gardener three years ago, Ranee Webb of Albany has been involved in almost every project that Linn County Master Gardeners offer. She was the driving force behind the creation of a new, free garden workshop series at the demonstration garden and a major contributor to the BEEvent Pollinator Conference and mason bee educational activities. She has been a mentor coordinator and is leading new Master Gardeners at the help desk.
Marion: Carol Anne Armstrong of Aumsville has logged close to 2,000 volunteer hours in her 13 years as a Master Gardener. She has been involved in the plant sale for seven years, serving as the perennials chair. She is constantly in the garden grooming, sorting and gathering perennials for this fundraiser. Armstrong also served as secretary and member-at-large on the Marion County Master Gardener Board. She coordinated the speaker’s bureau for three years, taught classes and wrote many articles for the monthly Garden Gate newsletter.
Tillamook: Debbie Lincoln has served as secretary, vice president and treasurer of the Tillamook County Master Gardener Association since becoming a Master Gardener in 2011. She has helped expand outreach activities in Tillamook County by securing a booth for the Birding & Blues Festival in Pacific City, the Tillamook Home and Garden Show and the Pacific City Farmer’s Market. Lincoln works in the Extension office, writes newsletter articles, has worked in the Learning Garden and been a fair host.
Union: Gerry Zastrow of Cove is a new Master Gardener volunteer but already her commitment to research-based diagnoses and thoughtful recommendations benefit the local Extension office and the community. In addition to plant clinic work, Zastrow works at the Farmer’s Market and in Master Gardener classes.
Wasco: In four years, Bob Bailey of The Dalles has held the offices of president-elect, president and past president. He is currently acting as the project coordinator and program coordinator for the Wasco County Master Gardener Association. He works with plant science students at The Dalles High School, who have adopted beds at The Dalles Imagination Garden as a school project. Bailey was a team leader for the fourth-grade Seeds and Soils program, and is currently serving as Wasco County’s Oregon Master Gardener’s Association representative.
Yamhill: To increase educational impact, Gene Nesbitt of Newberg has worked to add educational material to the Yamhill County demonstration garden and has organized educational events at the garden. He has also worked to start Seed to Supper in Yamhill County, already organizing the program at Newberg Head Start and at Grande Ronde. By including instruction in Spanish in Seeds to Supper and other educational programs, Nesbitt has expanded the reach of the Master Gardener Program into new Yamhill County communities.
County Behind the Scenes Awards
Benton County: Sophie Grow and Christina Clark have been chosen for a Behind-the-Scenes award. Grow, who became a Master Gardener in 2014, helps organize and participates in the Corvallis Edible Front Yard Garden Tour. She led the Philomath Seed to Supper class for the past few years and has partnered with Strengthening Rural Families to offer a youth education component to the class so that families can garden together. As a Master Gardener for four years, Clark has coordinated the plant sale “dig and divide” parties. She also spearheaded a movement to create Neighborhood Planters’ Kiosk (NPK), partnering with multiple community organizations to post gardening information in busy neighborhoods.
Central Gorge: The county Behind-the-Scenes award went to Becki Montgomery and Helga Reece. Montgomery became a Master Gardener 2014 after moving from Arizona where she was active in community gardens. She volunteers at the One Community Health Garden, and has put many hours into helping at the Learning Garden. She is an instructor for the Seed to Supper Program, and is actively involved with the mentor program and plant sale. During her first year as a Master Gardener, Reece put in well above the required volunteer hours. One of her activities was hospitality chair during the winter training.
Clatsop: Pam Trenary, who has been a Master Gardener since 2013, recognized that Clatsop County’s most visible outreach projects are the information and plant clinic booths set up at local farmer’s markets. To draw attention to the booths, Trenary suggested featuring a common problem such as slugs at the booths. She made a giant slug poster, printed OSU-approved slug control information sheets, and featured slug-damaged plants at the booth. That week, the booth recorded four times more traffic than usual. Other featured subjects included deer-resistant plants, powdery mildew and garden bees.
Josephine: Ida Toro has coordinated logistics for the annual Spring Garden Fair by identifying vendors, scheduling volunteers and training cashiers. She has also played a large role in beautifying the Agricultural Building at the Josephine County Fair by organizing Master Gardeners to decorate the building to support the fair theme.
Lane: Four-year Master Gardener Robbin Spraitz of Eugene is an original member of the Demonstration Garden committee. Together with two other Master Gardeners, she designed, planted, maintained and is reporting on the outcome of a four-seasons, low-maintenance garden. She was also a member of the political action committee that helped bring more secure funding for Extension to Lane County.
Lincoln: Becky and Web Stiles of Newport received a county Behind-the-Scenes award. Becky has been a Master Gardener since 1986. Web joined her 10 years later in 1996. As the news media team they write articles, collect pictures, coordinate with the local newspapers as well as Master Gardener activity leaders, to promote Lincoln County Master Gardener programs and events. They volunteered as Master Gardeners in Montana, Washington and California before moving to Oregon.
Marion: Richard Clarkson of Stayton attends all Master Gardener training classes and attempts to answer any questions students may have. This year, he worked with a student to assist her on a class she had missed to bring her up to speed on the class content. He fills in for mentors in the Plant Clinic and works the desk about once a week.
Polk: Harry Legleiter and PJ Plunkett of Dallas each received a county Behind-the-Scenes award. Both Legleiter and Plunkett have served on the steering committee for the Polk County demonstration garden and assist with the annual plant sale. At the Inspiration Garden in Independence, Legleiter loads mulch, totes gravel, digs holes, carries packages and explains planting methods. Plunkett is on the social committee, locates plants and identifies plants for the garden map. She created a website for the garden, and is working on q-codes that can be used for easy plant identification.
Yamhill: As a Master Gardener mentor Lynn is dedicated to making sure the trainees have a positive experience, can successfully navigate the training program and become effective and active Master Gardeners. Lynn also works the plant clinic desk, providing assistance to the public with their gardening questions.
In 2015, Master Gardeners had more than 170,000 interactions with the public statewide. They volunteered more than 215,000 hours, the equivalent of about 104 full-time workers in communities across Oregon, according to Gail Langellotto, statewide coordinator of the Master Gardener program.