CORVALLIS, Ore. – Forty-eight dedicated Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener volunteers have been recognized for service to their counties and communities.
The awardees are among the nearly 2,300 Master Gardeners who work with Extension to share their knowledge of sustainable gardening practices across 27 Oregon counties and 85 educational gardens. In 2021, volunteers put in 84,293 hours, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OSU Master Gardener program and the Oregon Master Gardener Association, a nonprofit that supports the program, sponsor the annual awards, which are decided on by a committee of Gail Langellotto, statewide Master Gardener coordinator, the OMGA president-elect and past award winners.
2021-2022 Statewide Master Gardener of the Year
Jane Moyer, Jackson County, is dedicated to teaching and has taught many Master Gardeners and community members about gardening. She even stepped in as an Interim Master Gardener Program Coordinator for a year. Creator of the Practicum, a hands-on lab for Master Gardeners to practice planting and raising vegetables and flowers, Jane’s work has served as a model across the state. She has chaired the Spring Garden Fair, the largest plant and garden sale between Portland and Sacramento. Whether teaching in a demonstration garden or on Zoom, Jane utilizes every opportunity to spread the word about organic gardening. She has hosted “In the Garden” on television and filled in on Jefferson Public Radio’s Garden Talk show. In her 17 years as a Master Gardener, Jane has volunteered 10,000 hours.
2021-2022 Statewide Behind the Scenes
At the start of the pandemic, Sherry Sheng, Clackamas County, realized the need to quickly pivot community outreach to engage a community with an urgent desire to garden successfully. Thanks to her exemplary leadership developing the 10 Minute University program over the past 12 years, she was able to quickly launch a noontime chat webinar series of 20 sessions, engaging over 7,000 viewers, including participants from around the world. She led volunteers in adapting to technology, and these new webinars reached gardeners when they needed it the most. While Sherry was a presenter for four classes, she served behind the scenes providing instruction, coaching and assurance of the high standards of the series. In her 17 years as a Master Gardener, Sherry has volunteered 7,550 hours.
2021-2022 County Master Gardener of the Year and Behind the Scenes awards
Benton County Master Gardener of the Year
Alan Taylor brings his talents as a scientist, researcher and grape grower to his work as a Master Gardener. But it’s his keen interest in working with trainees that has revitalized our program. He has found new ways to train and pair mentors with trainees and has worked closely with the Desk Committee Chair to revise the desk procedure handbooks. In 2020 and 2021, Alan served as Benton County Master Gardener Association vice president, and during this time he raised the quality of the monthly association meetings by selecting engaging topics and outstanding speakers who are experts in their field.
Benton County Behind the Scenes
For 32 years, Sandy Willis has always stepped forward to help get the work done. It’s known that if you work next to her in the greenhouse, you will learn a lot. She waters by hand, propagates hops and houseplants and is famous for (with permission) taking cuttings when visiting gardens and turning them into plants for others. Sandy is always upbeat, knows everyone’s names and her gentle but confident voice encourages everyone to be equally confident. She is the fourth longest-serving volunteer in the county who remains active and certified.
Central Gorge Master Gardener of the Year
Sandra Holden Montag is a true leader, volunteering where her skills are needed the most. She has served as president and is co-leading the team enhancing the demonstration pollinator garden. She’s a mentor to new trainees and collaborative and thoughtful as a leader. Sandy was pivotal in helping guide our many adaptations during the pandemic.
Central Gorge Behind the Scenes
Linda Kaufman is such a dedicated Master Gardener she drives the furthest to attend classes and events. Living in Washougal doesn’t hold her back from participating in garden projects, staffing plant clinics and making connections with new trainees. In 2021, she improved the plant clinics by reviewing online and satellite clinic questions and creating a database to track information, creating increased accuracy, consistency and efficiency.
Paul Matalucci became a Master Gardener at the beginning of COVID, and even through a year of closures and distanced learning, stayed involved and provided leadership. He delivers educational content through our Facebook and Instagram channels, short videos demonstrating seed starting and transplanting and welcomes Master Gardeners to his home for both formal and informal garden visits, sharing a wealth of knowledge about his wide variety of plants and growing techniques.
Central Oregon Master Gardener of the Year
Nathalie Smith is actively involved at the two Hollinshead gardens and helped create a plant database for the waterwise garden. During the pandemic, her skills were vital in helping navigate the remote plant clinic, hosting webinars and our first virtual spring seminar. The successful development and roll-out of the new ECCO database is in part the result of her hard work and commitment. In addition, Nathalie is the voice for our monthly radio tips.
Clackamas County Master Gardener of the Year
If you know about the Clackamas County Master Gardener Association’s events and community education opportunities, it is most likely due to the dedicated efforts of Sharon Andrews. Sharon became a Master Gardener in 2009 and since then she has communicated gardening knowledge and information throughout our chapter, the local community and across the country. Her skills in social media, print media, web development and event promotion have helped elevate our programming, including the Spring Garden Fair. She also serves as Master Gardener educator at the Pioneer Gardens at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
Coos County Master Gardener of the Year
As a champion for the Master Gardener program in the community, Claudia Turner communicates about our work and encourages participation. She is the current CCMGA president and has held multiple positions, beginning with treasurer. Claudia mentors new trainees, serves on committees and helps in the plant clinic. Anytime there is a need for help in programming, Claudia can be counted on.
Coos County Behind the Scenes
Mike Mueller is passionate about gardening and sharing the love of gardening with those around him. He grows hundreds of tomato plants each year for the plant sale, and you can find him working at the farmers market booth every summer, always willing to help out with setting up or tearing down the booth. He is a supporter of his fellow Master Gardeners and their many projects.
Curry County Master Gardener of the Year
The success of the Curry County plant sale is due in part to the willingness of Deb Carroll to step in when leadership was needed the most. She recruited the team, welcomed advice and new ideas, and guided the team. The new teaching greenhouse and Brambles newsletter have benefited from her many hours and hard work. In addition, she serves as the OMGA representative.
Curry County Behind the Scenes
Jeff Richter has been instrumental in the success of the work at Riley Creek Garden School. Not only has he built arbors and fences and handled repairs, he has also provided management, hiring guidance and collected a history of the garden.
Debbie Richter has revamped our presence at events, raised vegetables for the plant sale and is the point person for membership renewals. Debbie is the welcoming and personal contact for the organization and always helps coordinate chapter parties.
Douglas County Master Gardener of the Year
Bonnie Courter has been involved in just about everything over the past 13 years. From fundraising to community outreach to plant clinics, Bonnie has been there.
Nancy Fuller brings enthusiasm and skill to all her leadership positions: chapter president, state representative and alternate state representative. Activities at the Discovery Garden, community outreach and fundraising have all benefitted from her volunteerism.
Kish Doyle has served as alternative state OMGA representative for three years and as winter program co-coordinator for two years. Since becoming a Master Gardener in 2014, she has been involved in a wide variety of activities, including fundraising, education and community outreach.
Douglas County Behind the Scenes
Bonnie Durick has led the plant sale for five years, and thanks to her organizational skills, it’s been a huge success. She’s happy to serve however she’s needed, including at clinics, fundraising activities, community outreach, Discovery Garden and trainings.
Ann Severson shines at fundraising. She’s worked to ensure success at Compost Tea, the bake sale, and Trash to Treasure. You can also find her behind the scenes at the Discovery Garden, plant clinic and providing community outreach and mentorship.
Bruce Gravens works in the Victory Garden, greenhouse and the Discovery Garden Orchard. His fundraising work has included the plant sale, Trash to Treasure and the bake sale. Continuing education programs and several committees also benefit from Bruce’s stellar work.
Jackson County Master Gardener of the Year
A teacher at heart, Lynn Kunstman teaches gardening through radio, Zoom, Oili and the Speakers Bureau. But it was during the two years of COVID-19 that Lynn’s innovation of starting the Native Plant Nursery helped keep the chapter afloat. Lynn doesn’t shy away from leadership roles, having served as president elect, president, practicum mentor and driving force in a successful GoFundMe campaign that raised money for a rain catchment system, teaching how to be proactive in drought.
Jackson County Behind the Scenes Awards
Sean Cawley has jumped into volunteering despite becoming a Master Gardener during COVID, serving as student representative and becoming indispensable acting as grounds committee at the demonstration garden, where he puts in many hours. He revamped the vegetable demonstration garden and when he saw the lack of water at SOREC, he turned it into an opportunity to install a rain catchment system that serves as a demonstration to visitors of how to conserve water.
Josephine County Master Gardener of the Year
Helping turn a sunbaked asphalt parking lot into one of our demonstration gardens is but one project that has benefitted by Terry Ruiter’s commitment as a Master Gardener. She has served as plant clinic co-coordinator, demonstration gardens coordinator, one of three greenhouse managers, special projects coordinator and part of the scholarship committee. Terry’s knowledge of plants and horticulture runs deep and she provides trustworthy, science-based recommendations to community clients. At a time when the program in Josephine County is finding its path again after the COVID hiatus and a potential office relocation, Terry has been a reliable and thoughtful presence and a solid support to the Master Gardener program.
Josephine County Behind the Scenes
Thanks to Joan Foley, both trainees and mentors experienced a seamless transition to our new on-line training format. She recruits and trains new Master Gardeners and is always willing to provide recommendations and support. This past year, Joan took charge of having work aprons made for volunteers, volunteered to teach a course on plant propagation, organized a potluck for the new students and worked as the backup coordinator for the perennials program.
Klamath County Master Gardener of the Year
Lane County Master Gardener of the Year
Sarah Hampson’s collaborative and thoughtful approach to all of her many duties as a Master Gardener always leads to not only effective results but also an enjoyable journey. She has served on the board and multiple committees and was a core volunteer helping to transition the Lane County remote plant clinic. She is a trained diagnostic specialist and leads the plant diagnostic committee.
Lane County Behind the Scenes
Jim Rundall has worked steadily as an Extension Master Gardener volunteer for the past 19 years, and at 93 continues to teach and share his vast knowledge, especially in fruit trees. He helps maintain 115 fruit trees at GrassRoots Garden and his care of the orchard significantly impacts the amount of fruit produced, all of which is donated to Food for Lane County. He mentors and teaches others all along the way and is a calm and thoughtful presence.
Lincoln County Master Gardener of the Year
Since becoming a Master Gardener in 2016, Kristi Kind has served on the Lane County Master Gardener Association Board. She communicates our work and activities through documentation, photography and an Instagram account. Kristi serves on the statewide Master Gardener Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce, and has worked on curriculum review and changes to make our materials more culturally relevant. She’s also the chair of the hospitality committee.
Lincoln County Behind the Scenes
Now serving his third year as co-vice president of the LCMGA, Greg Kurtz has also been involved with South Beach Demonstration Garden, Yaquina Bay Lighthouse Demonstration Garden and Yachats Demonstration and Community Garden. He truly loves plants. Greg has served as coordinator of the spring plant sale. When no one else volunteers for a position, Greg steps forward.
Linn County Master Gardener of the Year
During COVID, Nancy Ragghianti successfully led the shift of the BEEvent Pollinator conference to an online format. She set up a new online order and pick-up process for mason bee supplies, publishes the Bee Notes e-newsletter and coordinates information for the web site. Currently she is helping set up a new online ticket sales for our Albany Garden Tour.
Linn County Behind the Scenes
For the past 12 years, Nancy Messman has led the success of our garden tour, from finding and scheduling the outstanding and distinctive gardens, to organizing the event up to and including the day of the tour. She is an avid gardener, and with her husband, has a phenomenal vegetable garden.
Marion County Master Gardener of the Year
Sharon Lohse’s foresight on the help desk has made the transition from remote work to in-person volunteering a seamless process. She is the plot manager for Everybody’s Garden, ornamental group manager and safety coordinator at Marion Garden. In her on-going efforts to address accessibility issues, she has reworked the raised beds to show several alternative approaches to assist people of different physical limitations. She also serves on the statewide Master Gardener Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Taskforce.
Marion County Behind the Scenes
Cyndy Shorter has served as the bridge for trainees prior, during and after COVID. She created an online membership directory to keep us all connected. In addition, Cynthia has been instrumental to the implementation of the new hybrid training program for 2022. Her wealth of experience, organizational skills and tenacity make things happen.
Multnomah County Master Gardener of the Year
Dennis Brown is a dedicated Master Gardener who clearly understands the mission and values of the Master Gardener program by educating and inspiring both Master Gardeners and the general public. Dennis has initiated innovative partnerships with community organizations developing garden curriculum for under-served communities. Most recently Dennis has been working with individuals experiencing houselessness at the Bybee Lake Hope Center. Dennis makes dozens of gardening presentations annually to community groups and libraries including city of Portland Fix-it Fair, and both the metro area OSU Master Gardener program, and the statewide Growing Oregon Gardeners webinar series.
Multnomah County Behind the Scenes
The challenges and the constraints of the pandemic did not deter Cheryl Brock, who created, developed and implemented a successful educational outreach with the Garden Grow Kit project. The project provided garlic and/or seeds to gardeners and included research-based information and resources to support their success. Garden kits were distributed to community gardens with the goal of reaching diverse and under-served community members. In her four years as a Master Gardener, Cheryl is keenly focused on educating others with solid garden guidance.
Polk County Master Gardener of the Year
Lori Hineman is a force to be reckoned with. A Master Gardener volunteer since 2019, Lori is leading the comeback of the annual plant sale. Her organizational and people skills shine in her many roles – 2021 board member at large. secretary for 2022 and as a garden leader in the demonstration garden. Lori is committed to lifelong gardening education and promotes permaculture practices.
Polk County Behind the Scenes
Becky Jay, class of 2020, is a new Master Gardener volunteer who has quickly become a highly valued member of the Polk County program. Becky works tirelessly behind the scenes to help ensure that the Inspiration Garden runs without a hitch. Becky currently leads the garden’s steering committee and is always available to lend a helping hand, even offering to volunteer on weekends to help youth complete community service projects in the garden and to provide flexible opportunities to trainees who work during the week. Becky has served as an ad hoc advisor during the faculty transition and recently agreed to serve on the Polk County advisory board.
Tillamook County Master Gardener of the Year
Since becoming a Master Gardener in 2018, Kristy P. Lund has served as class representative and mentor for new trainees. As president of the Tillamook County Master Gardener Association, she has kept the membership engaged during COVID, and was instrumental in coordinating with Food Roots and Tillamook County Library in delivering the Seed to Supper program.
Tillamook County Behind the Scenes
Much of the coordination for Tillamook’s virtual plant sale and garden tour videos was done by Sarah Ostermiller. Her dedication and imagination are but a few of the talents she brings as a Master Gardener. You can always catch her with a smile on Thursdays at the Learning Gardening, or in the hoop house propagating, repotting, or just cleaning.
Umatilla County Master Gardener of the Year
Cary Wasem-Varelais is not only president of the Umatilla County Master Gardener Association, she’s also a busy middle school teacher and robotics team mentor. During COVID, Cary was able to keep the chapter connected through Zoom, often introducing virtual engagement to many for the first time. Her patience in helping others troubleshoot presentations and access YouTube, communicating about events and keeping the group on track is stellar. Even without a program coordinator, Cary was the glue that kept volunteers together during this most difficult time.
Wasco County Master Gardener of the Year
Hilary Jensen is pulling us into the current century of technology. She leads our social media outreach and has joined the leadership team recruit and retain members. As an advocate for southern Wasco County, she’s ensuring representation for an often-overlooked area. Hilary has been very active during COVID keeping us going and in communication with each other and the public.
Wasco County Behind the Scenes
Since becoming a Master Gardener in 2010, Jens Fredericksen has been involved in every aspect of the Wasco County Master Gardener Association. He is the first to volunteer and has spent hours working at the NORCOR greenhouse and The Dalles Imagination Garden, assisting with any and all maintenance and construction that needs to be done. His many hours are done with a smile, kind word and reliable help.
Washington County Master Gardener of the Year
Pat Simmons views change as an opportunity, not a roadblock. Through her leadership, a new model for education and fundraising successfully developed and launched: Gardenfest was not only financially successful and well attended, but also engaged 75% of our membership. Pat has secured grants and donations, established online sales platforms and assisted in rewriting chapter bylaws and strategic planning. In addition, she established the plant propagation team and served on the board and as OMGA alternative representative.
Washington County Behind the Scenes
During Shirley Wolcott’s five years as a Master Gardener, she has served on the board, established a monthly recognition program and welcome program for volunteers, and helped survey new members for their skills and interests. She has helped research questions asked by the public to be used as a teaching aid for members. She leads the plant propagation committee and has taught Seed to Supper for two years.
Yamhill County Master Gardeners of the Year
Polly Blum has been a Master Gardener for 21 years. Her roles have been numerous, from volunteering at the desk, planning educational events, helping at the greenhouse and heading our Sunshine Committee, which sends cards, gifts and meals to Master Gardeners going through a difficult time. When Polly is involved, the activities and outreach are always well organized, expertly planned and successful. Polly inspires us all to keep volunteering and helping others.
Alan Wenner has been a Master Gardener for 24 years, contributing over 8,000 hours. Using his creativity, Alan begins and nurtures projects until they are ready to be passed along to other Master Gardeners. Thanks to Alan’s hard work at the McMinnville Community Garden, the 190-bed garden now contributes significantly to providing food for the Yamhill Community Action Partnership food bank. He has served as chapter president, OMGA representative and is known to share his knowledge and humor with volunteers, students and experienced gardeners.
Yamhill County Behind the Scenes
Gin Galt wasn’t fazed by the challenges COVID delivered to conducting plant sales. She jumped in and learned Shopify, quickly becoming an expert at selling plants and teaching others on the committee how to as well. She is co-chair of the insect committee, is a strong propagation committee member, volunteers with the Greenhouse/GrowAlley plant inventory, and helps with virtual intakes.
Amy Curtis has put her skills in business and web design to work, helping the Yamhill County Master Gardener Association reach new heights. She created the OMGA Mini-College website during the pandemic, and the website for the online plant sale. In addition, Amy serves as treasurer.
About the OSU Extension Service: The Oregon State University Extension Service shares research-based knowledge with people and communities in Oregon’s 36 counties. OSU Extension addresses issues that matter to urban and rural Oregonians. OSU Extension’s partnerships and programs contribute to a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for Oregon.