CORVALLIS, Ore. – Forty-four dedicated Oregon State University Extension Master Gardener volunteers have been recognized for service to their counties and communities.
The awardees are among the nearly 2,900 Master Gardeners who work with Extension to share their knowledge of sustainable gardening practices across 26 Oregon counties. In 2020, volunteers put in 134,993 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 winners of the Statewide Behind the Scenes award.
2021 Statewide Master Gardeners of the Year
Susan Albright, Washington County
Over the past decade, Susan Albright’s dedication and impact for gardeners in Washington County has been profound. She’s held so many leadership and co-leadership positions there’s too many to list, and her background as an educator has been brought to the forefront of her work as a Master Gardener volunteer. She’s designed and planted areas of demonstration gardens, provides leadership in establishing educational outreach goals, developed educational materials for adults and children. She has presented at the statewide level, and is an active citizen scientist combining forces with Xerces and Oregon Bee Atlas. She has led the Washington County Master Gardener Association through changes and adjustments, all with incredible communication and teamwork.
Chris Rusch, Douglas County
Chris Rusch’s impact in the Master Gardener program extends from her local community to her service and leadership in the Douglas County Master Gardener Association, all the way to the state level as President of the Oregon Master Gardener Association. As a retired botanist, her knowledge runs deep. She teaches, writes gardening articles and often presents publicly on topics of sustainable gardening. Despite the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic this past year, she has kept the DCMG running, helping to change operations as needed. She is an advocate within OMGA for diversity, equity, and inclusivity, and has served on multiple committees in previous years.
2021 Statewide Master Gardener Behind the Scenes Award
Sue Ryburn, Washington County
Sue Ryburn may be a tremendous leader, but she’s also a significant doer, working behind the scenes on multiple projects at a time. Whether it’s securing tens of thousands of dollars of grants, establishing multiple education gardens, or developing WCMGA’s “In the Garden Series” as a deliverable to gardeners at home during COVID-19, she consistently looks beyond boundaries of the association to establish community partnerships and work collaboratively with program leadership. This commitment to collaboration can be seen in her formation of the Community Collaborators group, made up of organizations with like-minded missions of the WCMGA. This network and support are invaluable, innovative and exciting work, true to the spirit everything she takes on.
2021 County Awards
Benton County Master Gardener of the Year
When the “tech team” of Rich Taylor, Lisa Borgerson, Jill Farrow and Leslie Hauser put their skills together, they did something never done before: Coordinated several online plant sales and drive-thru pickup events for the Benson County Master Gardener Association’s fundraising event. Using technology to streamline inventory, plant descriptions and an online store, their work ensured a smooth process that was safe and accessible in the middle of a pandemic.
Central Gorge Master Gardener of the Year co-winners
As a previous recipient of the Golden Trowel Award, given to outstanding new trainees, Joanne Willis has continued to grow and establish herself as a highly valued volunteer. She serves as leader of The Learning Garden, manages the membership directly, and has served as treasurer. The first Central Gorge Master Gardener Association’s online plant sale benefited by her organizational skills as she managed orders and invoices and served as customer communications specialist.
Bill Winfield was a student in OSU Hood River County Extension’s first Master Gardener class in 2005. During the pandemic, he helped secure locations that were all COVID-safe and outdoors for Master Gardener classes, plant exchanges and a recognition ceremony. He mastered the art of Zoom, and hosted a video training for fellow Master Gardeners on the use of seed starting heat mats. His work in the greenhouse includes both helping drive its construction and serving as quality control engineer. He’s also a great supplier of worms.
Central Gorge Behind the Scenes co-winners
CJ Flick’s love of birds has shone through in her work as a Master Gardener, with many of her volunteer efforts including education on birds and their habitat and how to attract them to a backyard setting. CJ’s skills migrate indoors in the winter months when she is instrumental in answering plant clinic questions.
If you’ve read a Central Gorge Master Gardener Association newsletter, seen flyers advertising the association events and the plant clinic, you’ve experienced the beautiful design work of Camille Jones. Camille and her 4-year-old twins have been steady attendees of work parties at The Learning Garden, all learning and growing together.
Coos County Behind the Scenes
Claudia Turner accomplished a lot behind the scenes in 2020: She serves as association treasurer and helps write and post content for the Coos County Master Gardener Facebook page. Her work on Facebook has tripled in followers, providing crucial information to local gardeners during the pandemic. She also mentors and supports new trainees and grows vegetable starts for the annual fundraiser.
Curry County Master Gardener of the Year
In 2020, Michelle Arnold became a Master Gardener, as well as stepped into multiple leadership roles. Her commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion helped better connect the association to community needs. As COVID-19 challenged regular operations, she found multiple ways to keep things going, all in a safe manner. It’s due to her enthusiastic leadership that the socially distanced plant sale in Curry County was able to happen.
Curry County Behind the Scenes
Thanks to Ali van Otterloo, the Curry County Master Gardener Association has an online plant store that is safe for volunteers and the public. Prior to COVID-19, she was a regular volunteer caring for plants in the greenhouse and maintaining the busy Master Gardener calendar. She has served as the glue in keeping volunteers informed and connected to the community.
Douglas County Master Gardener of the Year
Ruth Stafford leads by example: She works hard, she encourages others, and she listens. As Victory Garden co-coordinator, she came up with a plan when the pandemic hit and made it work. In previous years, she has served in many association roles, from chapter membership to the fair to pruning class instructor. She has helped with nearly every major program and management aspect.
Douglas County Behind the Scenes
The team of Ivor Chapman, Dave Clark, Earnest Amabisca, Mark Schmoll and Ray Warren have accomplished much, even under the duress COVID-19 delivered in 2020. Their projects together range from reinforcing irrigation, building sheds and plant tables and repairing the Tea House and doors. Combined, this team has volunteered 32 years.
Jackson County Master Gardener of the Year
Little did Ronnie Budge know when she became Jackson County Master Gardener Association (JCMGA) president in 2020, it would be full of all of the challenges COVID-19 has given us. Ronnie stepped into new technologies, report analysis, policy issues and many e-mails. She wrote monthly articles for the “Garden Beet” and steered the JCMGA with grace and aplomb. Over the 10 years she’s been involved, she has been a mentor and present at all JCMGA events.
Jackson County Behind the Scenes
If you’re a southern Oregon gardener who has reached out via email to ask gardening questions this past year, you’ve most likely connected with Dolly Travers, Katy Mallams, Jan Carlson or Viki Ashford. At a time when the Extension office was closed due to COVID-19, this team worked with dedication and grace to answer all online questions. Via their virtual efforts, they’ve reached well over 1,000 southern Oregon gardeners.
Lane County Master Gardener of the Year
Contributing over 1,800 hours to the Master Gardener program, Vickie Coover has served on the board, chaired committees, mentored new Master Gardeners and worked in the plant clinic. In 2020 she served as president, leading the chapter not only through COVID-19 but also in updating bylaws and procedures.
Lane County Behind the Scenes
Not many Master Gardeners can say they’ve been a volunteer for 37 years, but David Hoffman can. He is also a master of connections, bringing together Master Gardeners and the community they serve, including the iconic Oregon Country Fair. A self-described “Master Gardener hippie,” he was one of the first Master Gardeners who started the Grass Roots Garden project, which has gone on to produce tons of produce for the Lane County community. His work can be seen in the adaptive demonstration garden and the construction of the plant clinic. He can often be seen directing traffic at events, pitching compost and bringing chocolate to meetings.
Lincoln County Master Gardener of the Year
There isn’t an aspect of the Lincoln County Master Gardener Association that Alanna Miklic hasn’t been involved in. That includes historian, mentor, demonstration garden service, volunteer organization, membership directory, hospitality, educational greenhouse, grant committee, garden tour host, Rosarian, plant sale grower, help desk, fundraising and bookkeeping. To say she hit Master Gardeners running at full speed when she first became one in 2017 is an understatement.
Lincoln County Behind the Scenes
A fun, creative and positive force of the Lincoln County Master Gardener Association, Rebecca Hooper steps in where help is needed. For her, that has been in hospitality, growing plants, teaching classes, the logo committee and secretary. Her positive energy, teamwork and sense of humor makes gardening fun.
Linn County Master Gardener of the Year
With over 10 years of experience as a Master Gardener, Brenda Winslow has answered hundreds of plant clinic questions at the Sweet Home Farmer’s Market and has taught classes in Albany, Lebanon and Sweet Home. The association board, outreach, school programs, garden tours and BEEvent Pollinator Conference have all benefited by her boundless energy.
Linn County Behind the Scenes co-winners
Bobbye Rainey became a Master Gardener in 2020 and little did she know what was in store for her. She very quickly proved an invaluable member of the team, staffing the plant clinic by answering online garden questions from the public and coordinating seven parking lot pick-up sites for bee supplies. Through it all she’s enthusiastic, professional and collaborative, and she does whatever is needed, including weeding, planting and harvesting.
If ever there was a time when Nancy Ragghianti’s technical skills were needed, it was this past year. She has guided the association through website design and maintenance, online registration, store development and enhanced online educational efforts. Pivoting the BEEvent Pollinator Conference to online depended on Nancy’s hard work, and through it all she also published the popular newsletter, “Bee Notes.”
Marion County Master Gardener of the Year
2020 delivered many challenges, and the team of Stacy Moranville and Terry Sawyer rose to meet them. Together they navigated and led fellow Master Gardeners in safely reopening the Marion Garden. Both are members of the board, with Moranville serving as garden representative and Sawyer representative to the OMGA. In addition, they are frequent volunteers at MG plant clinics.
Marion County Behind the Scenes
If helping guide the Marion County Master Gardener Association through COVID wasn’t enough, Margrit Angeloni’s diligent work as the chapter’s treasurer has been transformative. The chapter is legally accountable and financially solvent thanks to her diplomatic hard work and many hours. She also organizes and trains the cashiers at the annual plant sale.
Multnomah County Master Gardener of the Year
As Multnomah County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden Director, Linda Goldser has helped guide both the Master Gardeners who volunteer in the garden, but also the garden’s future. With vision and planning for post-pandemic work in the garden, she’s moving the chapter forward and ensuring a strong and vital demonstration garden.
Multnomah County Behind the Scenes
Thanks to the publicity skills of Susanne Cavicchi, the Incredible Edible’s sale is wildly popular and is the Multnomah County Master Gardener Association’s major fundraiser. She edits the newsletter and chairs the communications committee.
Elaine O’Keefe brings significant experience and insight into organizational structure and serves as representative to the OMGA, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
During the pandemic, Cynthia Chase and her communication skills kept the board moving forward. Her personal fundraising skills have helped raise money for the demonstration garden and she serves as the chapter’s Facebook editor.
Polk County Master Gardener of the Year
Serving as chapter treasurer, secretary and historian, Judy Wardrum has kept the Polk County Master Gardener Association going strong throughout COVID-19. Her work leading the development of a new website and her authoring of educational articles has increased Master Gardener program visibility in Polk County. She’s a strong voice of encouragement and participation to fellow Master Gardeners.
Wasco County Master Gardener of the Year
Marilyn Richardson “filled in” beyond expectations: as interim greenhouse coordinator and as president during a time when Wasco County was without a Master Gardener coordinator. Add on top of that list a pandemic, and Marilyn has had an epic year. She organized volunteers, shifts, schedules and decisions even when COVID-19 restrictions made everything difficult. Thanks to her quick-thinking actions in a time of crisis, an additional 500 pounds of produce was harvested and donated to the Columbia Gorge Food Bank.
Wasco County Behind the Scenes
Mark Poppoff is the person you call when disaster strikes. Whether it’s transporting and hand watering areas of the Wasco County Master Gardener’s Demonstration Garden when the water was turned off due to nearby construction or rebuilding the garden entrance when it was run over and destroyed in the dark of night, Mark has shown up and brought his skills, talents and supplies when needed the most. He’s also a careful and exacting seed planter in the greenhouse.
Yamhill County Master Gardener of the Year
If there’s ever been a need for the computer and technical skills of Tom Canales, this was the year. He has been vital during the pandemic, coordinating Zoom webinars and registrations and teaching computer skills to fellow Master Gardeners. His generous nature and positive energy are magnetic, and he helps new trainees to ensure their success. If you’ve enjoyed the beautiful trellis at the entry to the rose garden, it’s thanks to his design and build skills.
Yamhill County Behind the Scenes
The Yamhill County demonstration garden looks as good as it does – even after COVID -19access restrictions – thanks to the hard work of Donn Callaham. He’s been secretary of the Yamhill County Master Gardener Association for the past five years, edits and writes for the “Grapevine” newsletter and helped staff this year’s virtual Master Gardener desk with dedication and a great sense of humor and laughter.