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MASTER GARDENER VOLUNTEERS Program takes top honors at state conference

Published: Thu, November 9, 2017 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Pam Baytos

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

The Ohio Master Gardener Volunteer state conference and awards program was Sept. 30 on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus. This conference is held yearly in a different county, showcasing volunteer efforts across the state. Mahoning County was well represented and honored with three outstanding state awards this year.

First, the group took the top honor as Outstanding Project of the Year for this Valley Grows page. This connection between The Vindicator and OSU Extension has been a great tool in bringing OSU fact-based information to the gardening community. It also allows volunteers to sharpen their skills as they research information for their articles. This project has had a positive impact, helping to spread information on horticulture, community gardening and nature. When clients visit our Plant & Pest Clinic, they mention that they “read us” in The Vindicator. Garden clubs, local nurseries, greenhouses, schools, etc., tell us they use the page as a reference tool.

Our next award went to our own Barb Delisio for State Master Gardener Volunteer of the Year. Barb has been an active master gardener volunteer for 24 years, volunteering more than 3,100 hours. She was instrumental in getting the Master Gardener Program started in Mahoning County in 1993. In 1996, she led a group that developed and set up Jubilee Gardens. Under Barb’s direction, four other inner-city gardens have been established in the city of Youngstown. In 1995, Barb established Mahoning County Plant & Pest Clinic, which has grown into a “well-oiled machine” that serves our community. This year, she implemented the planting of a garden with information stations for our Canfield Fair display. She has written many articles for the Valley Grows page. She has been a wonderful friend and mentor to many, making it possible for other volunteers to step into leadership roles in many of the programs she developed.

And last, but not least, is our fearless leader Eric Barrett, who took home the well-deserved award for Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator. Eric “coordinates” 73 volunteers and interns here in Mahoning County. I’m sure this must seem like “herding cats” at times. He oversees our group that plans and teaches horticulture programs around the county, operates a pest and plant clinic for county residents and works on community projects such as community gardens, youth programs and more. He’s an expert on hydrangeas and has taught many seminars on this subject across the state of Ohio, along with pruning clinics and other related classes. Eric has worked with OSU Extension programs throughout Ohio since 1996.

If you want to be part of this fun, award-winning group, we are training a new class of Master Gardener Volunteers starting March 22. We are active in our communities, helping others improve their lives and neighborhoods through gardening. If you’d like to join our very active group, contact the OSU Extension office.

Congratulations to all. Keep up the good work.

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