master gardener graduation 2014

Photo: Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry (third from left) joins Monmouth County Horticulturist Diane Larson (second from left) to congratulate the Master Gardner graduates at a ceremony held on Nov. 20 in Neptune, NJ. Pictured left to right: Gwendolyn Wisely, Diane Larson, Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, Judy Lipman, Veronica Gallagher, Linda Lichardi and  Beth Hutter.

NEPTUNE, NJ – Twenty-seven men and women became certified Master Gardeners at a graduation ceremony last week at Jumping Brook Country Club.

Graduates of the 2014 program are: Gary Adams, Allentown; Monica Cioffi, Brielle; Roseanne Duffy, Freehold; Marie Early, Howell; Veronica Gallagher, Manasquan; Debbie Gross Tulli, Manalapan; Beth Hutter, Marlboro; Jani Iyer, Freehold; Joan Janson, Freehold; Roberta Kilduff, Middletown; Karen Laszlo, Freehold; Karen Lesto, Neptune; Linda Lichardi, Freehold; Judy Lipman, Holmdel; Joe Luongo, Freehold; Lawrence Lyke, Matawan; Maureen McGuire, Red Bank; Pam Mueller, Sea Girt; Jess Pawlikowski, Oceanport; Harald Petersen, Little Silver; April Qin, Holmdel; Linda Rule, Little Silver; Pat Schmiedel, Interlaken; Sue Strabo, Freehold; Suzanne Valpreda, Allentown; Betsy Wattley, Shrewsbury; and Gwendolyn Wisely, Rumson.

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.”

“This year’s Master Gardeners group has proven to be an exceptional class,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said. “Half of the graduates have logged 100 hours of service, showing dedication to passion for the program.”

Thirteen of the newest graduates won awards for 100 hours of service: Monica Cioffi, Brielle; Roseanne Duffy, Freehold; Marie Early, Howell; Beth Hutter, Marlboro; Jani Iyer, Freehold; Roberta Kilduff, Middletown; Karen Laszlo, Freehold; Karen Lesto, Neptune; Lawrence Lyke, Matawan; Linda Rule, Little Silver; Pat Schmiedel, Interlaken; Suzanne Valpreda, Allentown; and Betsy Wattley, Shrewsbury.

In addition, seven veteran Master Gardeners also earned 100-hour milestone awards:Della Benevides, Shrewsbury; Faye Bruno, Sea Girt; Cathy Delhagen, Freehold; Mary Hilscher, Spring Lake Heights; Debbie Kernahan, Red Bank; Margie Longo, Freehold; and Kathi MacGowan, Belmar.

For 250 hours of service, fourteen Master Gardeners received recognition:Andrea Abbott, Oceanport; Erin Beuka, Freehold; Joanne Bujalski, Freehold; Larry Cier, Perrineville; Stacy Curro, Atlantic Highlands; Carol Fornwald, Long Branch; Carla Longo, Bradley Beach; Jon Gibbons, Lake Como ; Cheryl Grant, Matawan; Pam Musa Murphy, Lake Como; Maureen Puricelli, Morganville; Anne Quatrochi, Manalapan; Pamela Smith, Tinton Falls; and Christine Yovnello, Red Bank.

For 500 hours of service, twelve veteran Master Gardeners won awards: Marilyn Boak, Colts Neck; Jon Gibbons, Lake Como; Diane Grim, Colts Neck; Liz Hespe, Middletown; Janet Lyons, Howell; Pat Mahon, Shrewsbury; Joyce Maraziti, Manasquan; Dennis McNamara, Keyport; Dawn Nahory, Lincroft; Penny Raffetto, Manasquan; Barbara Schinkel, Eatontown; and Candy Tice, Wall.

Nine Master Gardeners achieved 1,000 service hours honors: Michele Blank, Freehold; Geoff Bray, Tinton Falls; John Connors, Ocean; Peter McIntyre, Matawan; Sandra McLaughlin, Avo; Marsha Montgomery, Englishtown; Kathryn Paige, Millstone; Barbara Pieszcynski, Eatontown; and Joel Whitman, Fair Haven.

Another two Master Gardeners reached the 1500 service award level: Denise Corrigan Dunne, Morganville; and Barbara D’Augusta, Middletown.

Master Gardeners reaching the 2,000 hours mark are: Gloria Gross, Lincroft; Tom Lang, Oakhurst; and Ronnie Leibowitz, Manalapan.

Master Gardeners reaching the 3,000 hours mark are: Gail Fritsch, Millstone; and Ellen Simonetti, Morganville.

Sandy Wolfe,Howell reached the 5,000hour award level and Evelin Gaffney, Rumson was recognized for 8,000 hours of service.

“This Master Gardener class worked with the best in the horticultural field – faculty from RutgersUniversity and BrookdaleCommunity College aend 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 MonmouthCounty’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 RutgersUniversity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the countyBoards of Chosen Freeholders. MonmouthCounty’s program involves the county office of Rutgers Cooperative Extension, BrookdaleCommunity College and the countyPark System. 

Information about the Master Gardener program is available on the Monmouth County Web site at and from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service at 4000 Kozloski Rd. in FreeholdTownship, or by calling 732-431-7260.