Master Gardners honored at annual banquet

OREGON — On Tuesday, April 3, several Ogle County Master Gardeners were honored, the annual awards banquet celebrated the 2017 achievements.
The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program is “Helping Others Learn to Grow.” The Master Gardeners have found a fantastic way to share their talents and give back to our community. They make a difference to the people around them. Without people who are willing to sacrifice their time and skills to our youth, adults and seniors, the world and our community would be a lot worse off.
Service awards were given to Kathy Michel of Byron for 10 years of service along with Sue Johnson of Mt. Morris, Mary Ley of Oregon, and Leona Totosz of Oregon for 5 years of service.
In the course of the 2017 year the following individuals gave 50 plus volunteer hours to Ogle county, projects included, community gardens, Fairground gardens, Hotline, Jr. Master Gardener, Therapeutic Horticulture, ect., Phil Bratta of Davis Junction, Bobbi Burke of Rochelle, Sue Johnson of Mt. Morris, and Leona Totosz of Oregon.
The Master Gardener Hotline, which is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon, plays a key role to help answer and educate the community and neighbors on flower or vegetable garden and insect questions just to name a few.
Burke was the Hotline Hero as she documented the most time spent answering community questions, dedicating 37.25 hours on the Hotline. If you have a garden question give the Hotline a call Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9 a.m. – noon at 815-732-2191 or email [email protected]
The Spice of Life award went to Larry Ermey of Stillman Valley as he is a person with sincere desire to learn, inspire and share. Ermey has a strong level of practical experience of knowledge of gardening, his actions, whether big or small have influenced someone’s life. Although he had some health issues during the middle of the year his tenacity and determination was sincerely inspiring.
The Golden Trowel Award is impressive. These Master Gardeners gave more than 100 hours to Ogle County. The community is very lucky to have such powerful individuals living right next door. Studies have found that when you stop thinking about your own problems and focus on someone other than yourself, your stress levels start to decrease; your immune system is strengthened and your overall sense of life satisfaction increases. Awarded the 100 plus volunteer hours of service were Sally Sarafin of Oregon with 106.25, Deb Bryant of Mt. Morris 107.25, Sue Paulin of Rochelle 128.5 hours Leah Patapack of Oregon 130, and Kathy Michel of Byron 135 hours.
The final award of the evening was the coveted Green Thumb award. This award was created to recognize a Master Gardener that is well rounded, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, a role model, has a love of gardening, involved in multiple projects and was voted for by his or her peers. The Most Valuable Planter (Green Thumb) award went to Sue Paulin of Rochelle and Leah Patapack of Oregon.
National Volunteer week is April 15 through 21; please take the time to thank the volunteers in your life and consider volunteering in your community by lending your time, talent and voice to make a difference.
For more information about the University of Illinois Extension, Master Gardener Program, Ogle County please contact, Elizabeth Sosa, 421 W. Pines Rd, Suite 10 Oregon, 815-732-2191 or visit us at

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