Upper Peninsula Extension Master Gardeners recognized for volunteer efforts

Through their community service via gardening education, MSU Extension Master Gardeners contributed over $78,000 to Upper Peninsula communities in 2023.

Children walking through a garden.
Woodland Childcare children getting a sneak peek at the new native plants and pollinator garden designed and installed by Elizabeth and Stephen Slajus. Photo by Elizabeth Slajus, MSU Extension.

Two thousand twenty-three has come and gone, and with it, Michigan State University Extension Master Gardeners have completed another year of volunteer service to local Michigan communities. The focus of their volunteering may help the environment through stewardship, improve lives via beautification or therapy, teach about growing food, or teach youth about gardening. Extension Master Gardeners are leaders and teach others about sustainable gardening practices that they learned through Michigan State University (MSU) Extension’s Foundations of Gardening course. In the Upper Peninsula, Extension Master Gardeners were recently recognized for volunteer efforts during 2023.

Overall, in the last year Upper Peninsula Extension Master Gardeners volunteered over 2,300 hours and drove more than 13,000 miles amounting to more than $78,000 contributed to local communities. Recognition was provided to Extension Master Gardeners who have reached volunteer hour milestones. Also recognized were those who serve as Extension Master Gardener diagnostic responders and assist with answering questions through the MSU Extension Lawn & Garden Hotline (1-888-678-3464) and/or Ask Extension, and have contributed to outreach efforts, for example, as MSU Extension Smart Gardening volunteers.

Who are some of the Extension Master Gardeners recognized in the Upper Peninsula?

Congratulations to Karen Moore, Advanced Extension Master Gardener in Delta County, who was recognized for 1,500 volunteer hours. Some of her volunteering focused on “Enhance Escanaba,” which included downtown beautification efforts.

Earning a gold name badge for 1,000 volunteer hours was Sue Wanic of Escanaba. Her volunteer project is the Serenity Garden located at OSF St. Francis Hospital and Medical Group. This garden’s beauty and tranquility have touched many lives, including patients, families and staff, as they experience this space.

Another Advanced Extension Master Gardener, Carolyn Bissell of Escanaba, was recognized for 500 volunteer hours. Bissell’s volunteering includes the Heritage Garden as well as numerous other beautification efforts. She also serves as a diagnostic responder assisting with both the MSU Extension Lawn & Garden Hotline and Ask Extension questions.

Recognized for 250 volunteer hours were Advanced Extension Master Gardeners Ruth Botbyl of Escanaba and Stephen Slajus of Dickinson. Botbyl volunteers at the Escanaba Community Garden, as an MSU Extension Smart Gardening volunteer, and other beautification efforts. Slajus helped establish both a vegetable/fruit and a pollinator and native plant garden at the Woodland Childcare Center.

Earning Advanced Extension Master Gardener status were Scott Cook of Escanaba and Slajus. Cook volunteers at the community garden “Grow Esky.”

Who are the Upper Peninsula Extension Master Gardener diagnostic responders and what do they do?

Extension Master Gardeners who are interested in directly assisting Michigan gardeners with their lawn and garden questions either on the MSU Extension Lawn & Garden Hotline or through the online Ask Extension resource become diagnostic responders. Along with being part of the Upper Peninsula diagnostic responder team, they are part of the statewide diagnostic responder team that answers over 8,000 questions annually. They receive annual training on diagnostics and frequent updates on current and future horticultural and garden issues and concerns.

Diagnostic responders assist consumer horticulture staff with bigger picture goals for gardeners, such as water quality through proper use of nutrients and fertilizer through use of soil testing, following recommendations, and pollinator protection through reduction and proper use of pesticides.

Upper Peninsula diagnostic responders recognized include Carolyn Bissell and Henry Knoch of Delta County and Lisa Gregg and Deb Kinzi of Houghton County.

What is Smart Gardening and how do Extension Master Gardeners help?

A volunteer talks to people at a garden conference.
Henry Knoch, Advanced Extension Master Gardener Smart Gardening volunteer, assists attendees with Smart Gardening resources. Photo by Rebecca Krans, MSU Extension.

Smart Gardening is MSU Extension’s messaging to help gardeners use earth-friendly practices in their own yards and gardens. Several topics are available for gardeners to learn more about healthy soils, gardening for pollinators, shoreland gardening and much more. Extension Master Gardeners who are interested in helping provide Smart Gardening resources to the public become Extension Master Gardener Smart Gardening volunteers. They are trained and equipped to provide Smart Gardening resources and information at different public venues such as farmers markets, county fairs and gardening conferences.

Recognized for their Extension Master Gardener Smart Gardening volunteer efforts in the Upper Peninsula in 2023 are: Mary Bosworth (Alger County); Carol Plitz (Chippewa County); Greta Arntzen, Carolyn Bissell, Ruth Botbyl, Henry Knoch, Dianna Lawson and Sue Wanic (Delta County); Elizabeth Slajus (Dickinson County); Amalia Anderson, Peg Hertl, Deb Kinzi, Jackie Manchester-Kempke and Erin Minne (Houghton County); Betsy Dayrell-Hart and Kathleen Perry (Mackinac County); Jan Peck, Ron Rossway, Cathy Starrett, Claire Twohey, Dawn White and Linda Winslow (Marquette County).

Overall, MSU Extension’s Smart Gardening resources were provided at over 25 events reaching over 1,000 individuals.

Extension Master Gardeners are essential to fulfill the mission of Michigan State University Extension. Michigan State University Extension recognizes and appreciates the time and knowledge Extension Master Gardeners give to their local communities.

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