Applications for 2012 course now available; deadline to enroll is Jan. 2

COLTS NECK, NJ – Twenty-six Monmouth County residents became certified Master Gardeners at a graduation ceremony Nov. 18 at Hominy Hill Golf Center.

The 2011 graduates are: Fran Ambio, Millstone; Lou Ambio, Millstone; John Connors, Ocean; Lucille Coviello, Spring Lake Heights; Kristen (K) Dasenbrock, Marlboro; Lee Deedmeyer, Freehold; Frank DiBella, Howell; Luba Durnya, Middletown; Pat Eisemann, Manalapan; Denise Fredericks, Tinton Falls; Carolyn Giovanniello, Marlboro; Cheryl Grant, Rumson; Barb Hindin, Colts Neck; Linda Honymar, Long Branch; Alka Lothe, Little Silver; Jennifer Marston, Atlantic Highlands; Jill Niehaus, Shrewsbury; Paula Padavano, Long Branch; Luisa Paster, Asbury Park; Maureen Puricelli, Morganville; Barbara Schinkel, Eatontown; Jackie Sharpe, Asbury Park; Cyndi Skove, Eatontown; Greg Sturgis, Freehold; Maria Veit, Cream Ridge, and Brenda Wilson, Aberdeen.

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.”

“The 2011 Master Gardeners class committed much of their time and new knowledge out of the classroom to the ‘Plant a Row for the Hungry’ program,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said at the graduation. “This very timely project yielded more than 2,500 pounds of garden produce that made a real impact and difference in the lives of families in need.”

Eight new graduates won awards for 100 hours of service: Lou Ambio, John Connors, Lucille Coviello, K Dasenbrock, Lee Deedmeyer, Carolyn Giovanniello, Barb Hinden, Luisa Paster, Barbara Schinkel, Greg Sturgis and Brenda Wilson. John Connors also won an award for 250 hours of service.

In addition, nine veteran Master Gardeners also earned 100-hour milestone awards: Marilyn Boak, Colts Neck; Mike Diehl, Clarksburg; Jennifer Freeman, Eatontown; Terri Gildea, Elberon; Liz Hespe, Middletown; David Levinsky, Marlboro; Carla Longo, Bradley Beach; Anne Quatrochi, Manalapan; and Jay Schaeffer, Keansburg.

For 250 hours of service, 18 Master Gardeners received recognition: Jerrilyn Bean, Matawan, Janice Beeby, Eatontowm; Gordon Boak, Colts Neck; Warren Carretta, Ocean; Mary Collins, Millstone; Joan Cox, Oceanport; Barbara D’Augusta, Middletown; Cliff Fishman, Rumson; Bill Gerth, Shrewsbury; Pat Halligan, Manalapan; Erika Hogan, Neptune; Peter James, Wall; Dan Robertson, Aberdeen; Brooke Sherman, Freehold; Bruce Siegell, Shrewsbury; Joel Whitman, Fair Haven; Elaine Whittaker Asbury Park; and Gayle Williams, Long Branch. 

For 500 hours of service, seventeen veteran Master Gardeners won awards: Dick Biddle, Geoff Bray, Tinton Falls; Liz Card, Joan Cox, Oceanport; Barbara D’Augusta, Middletown; Janet Dill, Shrewsbury; Cliff Fishman, Rumson; Bob LaCosta, Holmdel; Sandra McLaughlin, Avon; Carol Migrala, Spring Lake; Kathryn Paige, Millstone; Barbara Pieszcynski, Eatontown; Wally Seeley, Freehold; Vicki Stoeckel, Atlantic Highlands, Sophie Weiner, Ocean; Joel Whitman, Fair Haven; and Helen Yorke, Manalapan.

Lifetime awards for 1,000 hours of service were conferred upon seven veteran Master Gardeners: Peggy Beck, Millstone; Marian Busetti, Middletown; Nancy Carew, Keyport; Susie Eckardt, Highlands; and Pasha Ellis, Marlboro .

Three Master Gardeners achieved l,500 service hours honors: Bob Mellert, Morganville; Ellen Simonetti, Marlboro; and Egle Tschinkel, Holmdel.

Lifetime achievement for 2,000 hours of Master Gardener services was reached by Bob Michaels of Hazlet and Jeanne Patterson of Freehold.

“This 13th 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 many hours of intense home horticulture training. In return, they “pay back” local university extension agents through volunteerism.

In New Jersey, the program is a cooperative effort of Rutgers University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the county Boards of Chosen Freeholders. Monmouth County’s program involves the county office of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Brookdale Community College and the county Park System. 

The program is accepting applications for 2012. There is a $250 fee to cover material and program costs. Applications can be downloaded from the county Web site at and are also available from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service at 4000 Kozloski Rd. in Freehold Township, or by calling 732-431-7260.  The deadline to apply is Jan. 2, 2012