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Kane County master gardeners recognized for volunteer service

University Illinois Extension’s Doris Braddock weighs produce U  I Horticulture Research Farm St. Charles. It is one projects thlocal

University of Illinois Extension’s Doris Braddock weighs produce at the U of I Horticulture Research Farm in St. Charles. It is one of the projects that local master gardeners have already volunteered more than 3,100 hours for in 2013. | Submitted

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Updated: December 12, 2013 6:12AM

ST. CHARLES — University of Illinois Extension of Kane County celebrated its master gardeners recently with an awards and appreciation night.

The volunteer group already has completed 3,100 hours of service for 2013.

“University of Illinois Extension appreciates everything our amazing volunteers do to make the Master Gardener Program a success for our Kane County communities,” said Sarah Fellerer, Master Gardener Program coordinator. “Master gardeners share their own time and talents through the Master Gardener Help Desk, special events, service projects, workshops and more. Together, our group logged thousands of hours of volunteer time already this year.”

The awards event recognized new master gardeners as well as those with several years of service, Fellerer said.

Eleven interns were elevated to the official rank of certified master gardener. They were Donna Askins of Elgin, Bob Beavers of Geneva, Mary Elliott of Batavia, Gloria Finnerty of Algonquin, Colleen Haas of South Elgin, Jody Lay of Batavia, Donna Mack of Elgin, Lorna Marquis of St. Charles, Arlene Novicki of Sugar Grove, James Schiltz of Hampshire and Bill Smith of North Aurora.

“Master gardener interns are required to complete 60 hours of training and at least 60 hours of volunteer time, half of which is at our help desk,” Fellerer said. “It makes for a busy year, and our newly inducted master gardeners showed true dedication and enthusiasm for the program and our communities’ needs.”

In addition, many master gardeners received anniversary certificates to mark milestone years with the program, said Fellerer.

Five-year certificates went to Mary Clevenger of Sugar Grove, Patsy Hirsch of Elgin, Lorayne Hrejsa of Batavia, Izabella Kowalski of Geneva, Sue Schmeda of Huntley, Gail Trefil of Batavia and Sue Werner of St. Charles.

Master gardeners Vicki Hagstotz of Aurora and Cheryl Hackbarth of Maple Park marked 10 and 15 years, respectively. For two decades of service through the program, Nancy Cox of St. Charles earned her 20-year certificate.

“We have a strong Master Gardener Program in Kane County, and that is due in part to the example our seasoned master gardeners set,” Fellerer said. “They are as dependable, eager and passionate as any new recruit, and they have the extended knowledge and experience to complement their drive.”

Both new and experienced volunteers earned recognition for putting in more than 100 hours of service in 2013. Honorees were Askins, Cox, Hagstotz, Hirsch and Hrejsa.

Of the more than 3,000 hours the entire volunteer group banked in 2013, more than 1,000 hours were for the Master Gardener Help Desk. Cox won the “Cauliflower Ear” Award for most help desk time by logging 76 hours this year.

Other honors and their recipients were:

An Advanced Certificate in Ecology to Patsy Hirsch.

The “Awesome Apple” Awards to Colleen Haas and Lorna Marquis for outstanding work in their intern year.

The “High Yield” Award to Margaret-ann Haas for her leadership with the Idea Garden.

The “Spuds Potato” Award to both Sandy Portincaso of Huntley and Lorayne Hrejsa for their quiet, steady commitment.

The Teamwork Award to the 2013 Sherman Community Gardens Committee — Donna Arendt of Carpentersville, Askins, Ron Asselborn of Campton Hills, Gloria Finnerty of Algonquin , Colleen Haas, Patty Harrer of Elgin, Hirsch, Linda Lood of Sleepy Hollow, Marquis, Portincaso, Schiltz, Jim Stendler of Elgin and Cherryl Strathmann of Elgin.

The Master Gardener Help Desk will be open for calls again in March 2014. For more information on the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program in Kane County, contact Fellerer at or visit

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