Twenty-seven men and women became certified Monmouth County Master Gardeners during a recent graduation ceremony held at Jumping Brook Country Club, Neptune.
Local graduates of the 2015 program are: Russ Bohlin, Farmingdale; Laura Dreifus, Millstone Township; Cheryl Greenfield, Freehold Borough; Lee Hansen, Morganville; Molly Kocsik, Freehold Township; Cheryl Perkins, Freehold Township; Nancy Smith, Marlboro; and Ellen Terry, Millstone Township.
The Master Gardeners are now certified gardening experts because they have completed a course of classroom and hands-on training in plant biology, propagation, soil science and disease and pest control. The trainees then began sharing their knowledge with others by conducting garden lectures, demonstrations, school and community gardening projects, and answering calls on the county’s “horticulture helpline,” according to a press release.
Eleven of the newest graduates received awards for 100 hours of service, including: Laura Dreifus, Millstone Township; Cheryl Greenfield, Freehold Borough; Lee Hansen, Morganville; and Ellen Terry, Millstone Township.
In addition, seven veteran Master Gardeners also earned 100-hour milestone awards, including: Debbie Gross Tulli, Manalapan; Joe Luongo, Freehold Township; and Sue Strabo, Freehold.
For 250 hours of service, 23 Master Gardeners received recognition, including: Darin Carovillano, Howell; Cathy Delhagen, Freehold Township; Marie Early, Howell; Lillian Finlay, Freehold Township; Dorey Grimes, Howell; Beth Hutter, Marlboro; Jani Iyer, Freehold Township; Patti Kemps, Jackson; Karen Laszlo, Freehold Township; Susan Losapio, Freehold Township; Grace Lowry, Farmingdale; Joe Luongo, Freehold Township; and Andy Valdes, Freehold Township.
For 500 hours of service, 12 veteran Master Gardeners won awards, including: Erin Beuka, Freehold Township; Carolyn Giovaniello, Morganville; Pat Halligan, Manalapan; Isabelle Koren, Howell; Marvin Koren, Howell; and Jan Mawson, Freehold Township.
Ten Master Gardeners achieved 1,000 service hours honors, including Gordon Boak, Colts Neck; and Carol Farber, Freehold Township.
Jeanne Patterson of Freehold Township was recognized for 4,000 hours of service.
“This Master Gardener class worked with the best in the horticultural field – faculty from Rutgers University and Brookdale Community College, and professional staff at the Monmouth County Park System and the Cooperative Extension — while completing their training,” said Bill Sciarappa, Agricultural and Resource Management Agent for Monmouth County’s Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office.
The Master Gardener program, conducted throughout the United States and Canada, is a two-part educational effort in which avid gardeners are provided with home horticulture training. In return, they “pay back” local university extension agents through volunteerism, according to the press release.