OSU honors 28 Master Gardeners for their volunteer work

August 3, 2012
Photo of Leo Grass, taken by S. Andrews.
Leo Grass of Roseburg holds the Behind the Scenes statewide award he received. Photo by S. Andrews.
Photo of Larry Sutton, taken by S. Andrews.
Larry Sutton is the 2012 Oregon Master Gardener of the Year. Photo by S. Andrews.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon's Master Gardener program has given two Douglas County residents its highest statewide awards this year in recognition of their volunteer work. 

Additionally, program leaders handed out county-level awards to 26 individuals for their service to their communities and the program.

The annual awards are sponsored by the Oregon State University Extension Service's Master Gardener program and the Oregon Master Gardener Association, a nonprofit that supports the program.

The Master Gardener program offers courses on home horticulture in 30 of Oregon's 36 counties as well as online. Graduates, known as Master Gardeners, are then expected to share their new knowledge with others by volunteering to answer questions or teach at Extension offices, farmers markets, workshops and community gardens.

Last year, the more than 4,000 active Master Gardeners in Oregon had 204,000 interactions with the public, said Gail Langellotto, who heads the program. Their 181,000 hours of volunteer service were the equivalent of 87 full-time staff, she added. Master Gardeners also gave food banks more than 10,000 pounds of fresh produce harvested from community and demonstration gardens that they manage, she said.

Below are the recipients of this year's awards:

Larry Sutton from Umpqua is the 2012 Oregon Master Gardener of the Year. Sutton has been a Master Gardener for eight years and has worked on nearly every project or program offered by the Master Gardeners in Douglas County. His contributions include working in Douglas County’s Discovery Garden and Horticultural Learning Center, presenting classes, serving on his local and state Master Gardener boards of directors, and creating a mentoring program for new Master Gardeners.

Leo Grass of Roseburg received the Behind the Scenes statewide award for quiet and unselfish volunteer work that supports the Master Gardener program and his community. Grass has amassed more than 2,000 hours of volunteer service during 11 years. He has answered gardening questions in the Master Gardener help center in Douglas County nearly every week for nine consecutive years. While working in the center, Grass recognized the importance of soil testing for people who want to garden effectively and sustainably. Because most individuals did not want to pay $40 for a soil test at a commercial lab, he developed a testing lab at the Extension office in Douglas County. With the new lab in place, Master Gardeners are now able to provide people with accurate information about their soil pH and nutrient needs for only $15. Each year, he trains new Master Gardeners to help in the soil lab, and teaches each new class how to interpret the results of a soil test.

The county-level Master Gardeners of the Year are:

Baker County: Mindy Sherrieb is the backbone behind the Master Gardener trainings in Baker City. She communicates with instructors, helps set up the room, advertises events in the local community and encourages those in attendance to volunteer their time as a Master Gardener. 

Benton County: Steve Naberhuis of Corvallis has been a Master Gardener for five years, during which he has volunteered more than 1,000 hours. He helps prepare new Master Gardeners to answer the public’s gardening questions and helps prepare the Insights into Gardening seminar and Gearing Up for Gardening lectures. He has been treasurer and secretary to the Benton County Master Gardener Association.

Central Gorge (Hood River County): Eric and Shari Bosler of White Salmon have been Master Gardeners for four years and seven years, respectively. Eric was president of the Central Gorge Master Gardener Association; Shari has been Hood River County’s representative to the Oregon Master Gardener Association. Together, they have co-chaired the Central Gorge Garden Tour, mentored new Master Gardeners and answered the public’s gardening questions in the local help center.

Central Oregon (Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties): Toni Stephan of Redmond has been a Master Gardener for 15 years. Stephan has been a tireless and conscientious educator in her community, giving talks to schools, garden clubs and community groups. Before the annual Weed Pull at Eagle Crest Resort, she gives talks on weed identification and management. She initiated the Growing Kids program at the Boys & Girls Club of Redmond, the Tumalo Community School and the Kansas Avenue Learning Garden, where she helped to develop and deliver a curriculum that teaches kids to create a vegetable garden and to give back to the community by sharing their harvest with the local food bank.

Clackamas County: Paul Miken of West Linn has been a Master Gardener for 29 years. He helped develop the Master Gardener program in Clackamas County in the 1980s and was instrumental in starting an endowed scholarship program at Clackamas Community College. Since its inception, this Master Gardener-sponsored endowment has helped send 30 students to school. As chair of the hospitality committee, Miken helps to welcome new Master Gardeners to the program. He has also served as treasurer of the Clackamas County Master Gardener Association and representative to the Oregon Master Gardener Association.

Clatsop County: Debbie Haugsten of Ocean Park has been a Master Gardener for four years. In 2011, she volunteered for 246 hours and donated more than 300 plants to support her local Master Gardener association. She has co-chaired the Spring into Gardening seminar and the Master Gardeners' local plant sale. She coordinates the statewide event in which Master Gardener groups from around the state develop and present displays that share the story of their programs.

Columbia County: Andy Thayer of Rainer has been a Master Gardener for three years. A talented carpenter, he has devoted his time and talents to improving the Master Gardeners' demonstration gardens in the county. 

Coos County: Sandra Stafford of Coquille has been a Master Gardener for two years. She has served as editor of the local Master Gardener newsletter, taught a class at the Fertilize Your Mind seminar, and created a website for the Coquille Community Garden. She also helps teach new Master Gardeners how to use computers more effectively to answer the public’s gardening questions. 

Curry County: John Caldwell of Gold Beach has been a Master Gardener since 2009. A science teacher by trade, Caldwell teaches new Master Gardeners as well as students at Kalmiopsis and Riley Creek elementary schools. He was instrumental in developing Little Bear Patch Garden at Kalmiopsis Elementary, where he secured the fencing, helped build raised beds and put in the drip irrigation system. During the school year, he conducts garden-based science projects with the children to help grow a future crop of gardeners. He has also supported the Coastal Garden and Art Tour by opening his own garden on the tour and helping others prepare their gardens for the tour.

Douglas County: Mik Carlson of Roseburg has been a Master Gardener for seven years. She has given more than 1,300 hours of service to her community and Master Gardener program. For the past two years, she has co-chaired the Victory Garden, which grows produce for the Umpqua Community Action Network food bank distribution center. Last year, the garden produced 2,733 pounds of food. Carlson added another 506 pounds by collecting donations from local Master Gardeners. She worked with the food bank's manager, Tom Kelley, to grow what was most needed.

Jackson County: Jane Moyer has been a Master Gardener for eight years. She chaired the greenhouse program for more than a year and combined the greenhouse practicum with the Gramma’s Garden practicum to create a more efficient and effective training experience for Jackson County’s Master Gardeners. She coordinates the local Master Gardener evening and weekend classes, and she has chaired the Winter Dreams, Summer Garden seminar. She practiced a 100-mile diet for one year and wrote about her experience in the newsletter for Jackson County's Master Gardeners.

Josephine County: Lilly Pattee of Grants Pass has been a Master Gardener for three years. A retired sixth-grade teacher, Pattee was instrumental in starting a K-12 outreach program that used hands-on experiences in the garden to teach children about basic science concepts and their local food system. She and her Master Gardener colleagues developed curricula, provided instruction and made connections with local schools. Today, Pattee and her team teach garden-based lessons in 14 schools.

Klamath County: Mala Quatman of Klamath Falls has been a Master Gardener for two years. She is co-manager of the Klamath Falls Community Garden where she shares her strong organizational skills and enthusiasm for creating a network of garden-loving Master Gardener volunteers and community garden participants. She has served as president of the Klamath County Master Gardener Association and has mentored Master Gardeners in the 2012 training class.

Lane County: Cindy Wise of Springfield has been a Master Gardener for 16 years. She helped start the adaptive gardening committee to teach those with physical injuries or disabilities how small modifications can make gardening easier. As chair of the Lane County Master Gardener Compost Committee, she instigated classroom presentations to teach children about compost and worms and organized monthly composting demonstrations at community gardens. She also organized a coffee ground pick up that annually diverts more than 50,000 pounds of coffee grounds from landfills to local gardens. She similarly organized vegetable waste pick-ups at local markets. 

Lincoln County: Cathi Block of South Beach has been a Master Gardener for four years. She has served as coordinator for the Master Gardener demonstration garden at Oregon Coast Community College in South Beach. Although the garden began as a bare and weedy field, it now hosts numerous raised beds, a greenhouse and many demonstration projects that teach gardeners on the central Coast about plant varieties and gardening practices that stand up to salt spray, steady winds and cloudy days.

Linn County: Betty Goergen of Lebanon has been a Master Gardener for six years. In addition to working full time at Nichol’s Nursery, she owns and runs an organic berry and seed farm. She has served as vice president of the Linn County Master Gardener Association and has organized the annual Master Gardener tour in the county.

Marion County: Tobie Habeck of Woodburn has been a Master Gardener for five years. She organizes the monthly Master Gardener meetings in Marion County and has brought in popular speakers. As a result of her leadership, attendance has increased from about half a dozen people per meeting to around 30 and even reached 56 on one occasion. Habeck has managed the deer-resistive plot at the Marion Garden for four years and has managed the lily garden for three years. She also helped to design and plant the annual plot at the demonstration garden in Salem.

Multnomah County: Beven Peters and Marcia McIntyre have been Master Gardeners for 12 and six years, respectively. This past year, they helped to coordinate the efforts of more than 100 volunteers in association with the group’s Incredible Edibles plant sale.

Polk County: Dolores May of Dallas has been a Master Gardener for 11 years. She was an initiating force behind the Fall Fling Gardening Workshop and regularly writes articles for the Master Gardener newsletter in Polk County. She fields gardening questions from the general public at the plant clinic desk in the OSU Extension office and is a mentor to new and veteran Master Gardeners. Last year, she volunteered more than 800 hours to the Master Gardener program.

Tillamook County: Laura Owens of Rockaway Beach has been a Master Gardener for four years. She has served as vice president and president of the Tillamook County Master Gardener Association. She has been the co-chair for the garden tour and for outreach activities at the Tillamook farmers market.

Umatilla County: Bill Dochnahl of Pendleton completed his Master Gardener training in 2012.  His impact was immediate. He worked with the Umatilla County Courthouse to redesign their landscape as a demonstration garden. In addition to regularly answering the public’s gardening question out of the local Extension office, he wrote a regular gardening column for the East Oregonian newspaper and the county employee newsletter.

Wasco County: Sheri Esquivias of The Dalles has been a Master Gardener since 2008. From the very beginning, she took a leadership role in helping the Master Gardeners in Wasco County establish a youth program with the Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility. The facility initially asked the Master Gardeners to help them learn how to grow plants in a new greenhouse there. Esquivias saw an opportunity to also provide Master Gardener mentors for the youth who were incarcerated there.

Washington County: Tim Lanfri of Beaverton has been a Master Gardener for five years. A lifelong food gardener and an avid fisherman, he grows vegetables all winter without a greenhouse. He founded the Community Garden Creators, a nonprofit that helps local landowners create and sustain community gardens.

Yamhill County: Linda Coakley of Newberg has been a Master Gardener for five years. She has mentored new Master Gardeners as well as students at Newberg High School. She has also worked on beautification projects throughout Newberg.

Author: Tiffany Woods