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.
Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry was on hand to congratulate each of the newly certified experts at their graduation ceremony held on Nov. 16 at the Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune.
“These men and women have truly dedicated themselves to learning all there is to know about gardening and are now out sharing that knowledge with their communities,” said Director Burry. “It never ceases to amaze me how selfless these Master Gardeners are with their time and expertise. I encourage anyone with gardening questions to take advantage of the lectures they offer and call the helpline they provide.”
After the classroom sessions, the participants share their knowledge with others by conducting garden lectures, demonstrations, school and community gardening projects, and answering calls on the County’s “horticulture helpline.”
Graduates of the 2017 program are: Cindy Allen, Red Bank; Barbara Brock, Sea Girt; Brian Cairns, Millstone; Sandy Carr, Howell; Bob Conkling, Manasquan; Cathy Gallagher, Wall; Valorie Iglay, Leonardo; Angela Nina Juffey, Morganville; Margaret Katz, Tinton Falls; John Myers, Freehold; Kennedy O’Brien, Neptune; Rita Pizarro-Giron, Long Branch; Penney Riegelman, Atlantic Highlands; Christopher Rolke, Eatontown; Tony Rosa, Monmouth Beach; Jane Sims, Marlboro; Tim Snyder, Manasquan; Butch Struszkiewicz, Hazlet; Sandy Van Sant, Monmouth Beach; Duffy Westhead, Monmouth Beach; Michael Winchell, Atlantic Highlands; and Jane Zysk, Holmdel.
Information about the Master Gardener program is available on the Monmouth County website at www.VisitMonmouth.com and from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service at 4000 Kozloski Rd. in Freehold Township, or by calling 732-431-7260.