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Congratulations to all our winning Master Gardener Volunteers and their projects. We are excited to announce that our Delaware County group of Master Gardener Volunteers swept the awards at the 2021 OSU Extension Annual State Conference!

We all give in so many ways in so many amazing projects, paying forward to our community and to each other. This year, we recognized the following projects, MGVs and Friends of MGVs and we are thrilled that they were acknowledged by the State as being the “best of the best”.

  • Terri Litchfield – Outstanding MGV

  • Native Plant Propagation Project – Outstanding Large MGV Project

  • Pandemic Perseverance Award:

Grace Clinic Project (Barb Butt and Carol Champa)

DCMGA Website (Tech Committee)

  • Stratford Ecological Center– Outstanding MGV Friend

We’d like to give just a brief overview of the achievements of each of our winners.

Terri Litchfield – Outstanding MGV

Terri is a generous and tireless ambassador for Native Plants in the Master Gardener program. She is welcoming, patient beyond bounds and a judicious delegator, all useful traits for the Chairman of the largest committee in the DCMGA organization. Technical know-how and organization are just a few of the strong leadership qualities that make Terri an inspirational leader who is bubbling with ideas and knows how to make them happen. Planning education days, seed starting events, garden walks or solving technical problems while sharing her love of native plants with the community, Terri always has a smile. She empowers MGs to never cease learning and to share their knowledge with others. Inspired by the interest in her native garden, Terri assembled a committee and got to work growing native plants to sell, and along the way, created educational opportunities for both the community and MGs. Butterflies and Master Gardeners alike, we thank Terri for all that she does on our behalf and on the behalf of all gardeners.

Native Plant Propagation Project – Outstanding Large MGV Project (Environmental Horticulture)

The Native Plants project began in 2018 as a means for Delaware County Master Gardener Volunteers (DCMGVs) to learn more about plants native to our state and region and to grow these natives to sell to the public. It evolved into a major educational and plant nursery effort of 38 DCMGVs who promote the ecological benefits of native plants to our community and grow 16 species of natives to offer to the public through our annual plant sale.

We reach out to both Master Gardeners and the casual gardener interested in preserving biodiversity through our workshops, presentations and plant sales and digitally through our webinars and Facebook. We strive to teach gardening practices that are ecologically sustainable and promote habitat health for insects and birds through the use of native plantings.

Specifically, our goals are to:

  • Increase public awareness of the importance of native plants in local ecosystems and to the use of native plants in gardens and landscapes

  • Advance DCMGV’s education (workshops and hands-on experience)

Pandemic Perseverance Award

This was a (hopefully) once in a lifetime award to address how each county reacted and adapted to the limitations place upon them by the COVID pandemic. How did MGVs continue to reach out to their communities? This award required two essay nominations and we chose the new DCMGA Website and the Grace Clinic project.

1. In what ways was your county able to continue to connect to MGVs and the community during the pandemic?

DCMGA Website – the tech committee

Delaware County was resilient throughout the pandemic, finding ways to continue to engage with stakeholders both internally and externally. Creating fact sheets, plant profiles, educational videos and other materials, the members realized there was nowhere to “house” all of these (and past) great resources. The association created a technology committee to brainstorm next steps and potential options. The tech committee came to the conclusion that a website needed to be created to be the hub for all the educational resources. The website was created with the vision of being a resource to Delaware County community members as a gardening and horticulture library and quickly grew to so much more.

Studying extension and horticultural websites across the nation, the Master Gardener Volunteer technology committee itemized priorities to make the website intuitive, fun, colorful, current and packed with useful easy-to-access gardening information for both the casual and Master Gardener.

Last year was a difficult year for our Master Gardeners, but the pandemic gave us time to assess and catalog our strengths. It gave us time to find and develop a new path to digitally connect to our Delaware County and MGV communities and to further open access to all our wonderful educational and horticultural resources.

Stratford Ecological Center – Outstanding MGV Friend

Over the years the Delaware County Master Gardeners have made use of both Stratford’s physical resources and the Center’s knowledgeable welcoming staff to host monthly Master Gardener meetings and to present a variety of programs to the local community. One staff member, Bob Harter, is a specialist in native plants and has been extremely helpful with several of our native plant programs.

In early 2020, Delaware County Master Gardeners (DCMG) entered into a partnership with Stratford to build two raised beds on SEC property. We needed more land for our native plant nurseries. DCMGVs would provide native plant training to the community at Stratford in exchange for use of SEC garden property – truly a win-win situation!

Delaware County Master Gardeners value Stratford Ecological Center as much more than just a ‘Friend’ of our organization but also as an important resource for Central Ohio. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with them on so many varied educational horticultural events and we thank them for all the support and knowledge they have so generously shared with us.

2. Please provide examples of successes (up to 3) that you achieved in your county projects despite the limitations created by the pandemic.

Grace Clinic – Barb Butt and Carol Champa

Grace Clinic is a free medical ministry in the city of Delaware that serves uninsured and underinsured members of the community. Diabetes and obesity are major health concerns and nutrition is a frequent topic of conversation between the clinic and their clients. Learning what to eat and just as importantly, having the right food choices readily available were goals of the partnership between DCMGVs and Grace Clinic.

Barb Butt and Carol Champa answered the clinic’s call for help and advice on how to provide fresh produce and to educate their clients on the benefits of eating fresh vegetables. They planted raised beds with lettuce, peas, beets, cucumbers, beans, cabbage, squash, tomatoes, and sweet peppers and instructed clinic staff on best practices for watering, harvesting, and maintenance. The clinic tended the prolific garden and provided their clients with many goodie bags of fresh vegetables to enjoy, always with a reminder of the benefits of fresh produce.

A second, and wildly successful part of the partnership, taught Grace Clinic clients how to grow their own vegetables. Carol and Barb assembled over 30 tomato “kits” and created a “Vegetable Gardening 101” PowerPoint that was made into a YouTube video in a MGV’s home garden. Clinic clients interested in taking home a “kit” watched the video during their appointments and learned about growing vegetables, specifically care of tomatoes.

Along with the Grace Clinic Executive Director Melissa Mason, we thank Barb and Carol for their “overwhelming success”. “The container gardens were such a hit – we got more calls for that program than any other nutrition outreach to date! Patients would come in each week with reports on how their garden was growing.”

Platinum Level Standard of Excellence Award
(Highest Level of Excellence)

DCMGA and the Delaware County Extension Office were granted the Platinum Level Standard of Excellence Award for meeting at least nine criteria of the Master Gardener program. Requirements include submission of membership data including CEUs and hours volunteered, adherence to state policies, internal financial review, offering of a community education program, and submittal of award nominees.

Charlotte Niceswanger - 2021 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year

The Delaware County Master Gardener Association is proud to announce Charlotte Niceswanger as the 2021 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year.

Charlotte developed our Master Gardeners’ Facebook page into a major presence in horticultural education and information. She recognized the untapped potential of Facebook and with humor, well organized postings and beautiful photography she brought our extensive gardening knowledge to social media and into the homes of all of our many “friends”.

Last year was a difficult year for Master Gardeners. Our Mission Statement is to “educate others with timely, research-based gardening information”. When state and OSU restrictions were put in place in Spring 2020, Facebook became one of our prime communications venues. Charlotte works tirelessly with Master Gardeners to identify programming and educational postings to keep our Delaware County residents entertained, learning and gardening.

An excellent hobby photographer, Charlotte uses her unique skills to add beauty and her creative and timely ‘Humor Thursdays’ add a touch of fun when it is desperately needed. As our gardens grow and evolve, so too has the Delaware County Master Gardener Facebook page under Charlotte’s loving care. A dash of fun, a sprinkle of sparkle and a heaping dose of education and information – these are the tools that Charlotte uses to reach and teach our public friends.

The Delaware County Master Gardener Association has been enriched by Charlotte’s commitment and her willingness to creatively step up and help out. In honor of her contributions, DCMGA will award two $2500 scholarships in Charlotte’s name to any High School seniors and/or college students going into the field of horticulture.

Thank you Charlotte, for your gifts of time and talent to us and to all of the home gardening community.

By: Gayle O’Sullivan

Liechty Honored as an Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer for 2019

The Delaware County Master Gardener Association (DCMGA) is proud to announce that Susan Liechty was honored as an Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer for 2019 at the OSU Extension Annual Conference. Susan has been active in DCMGA for 25 years!

Susan is the embodiment of a tireless ambassador for the Master Gardener program. She is an innovator of new educational programs that attract MGVs and draw in the gardening public. She empowers MGVs to educate others and to never cease teaming. She is a mentor, an educator, a leader and a highly respected MGV at all levels, local to national, professional horticulturalist to first time gardener. In a perfect analogy, one gardening magazine described Susan as "warm and comfortable as a country kitchen" ... if one throws in a pinch of spice!

Her joyful hands-on approach to teaching, her extensive contributions to herbal knowledge and her enthusiasm in sharing that information, her willingness to listen and lead have only intensified over her 25 years as an extremely active MGV. Susan is one of our strongest supporters for advanced Master Gardener education and her vision, guidance and hard work have created so many learning opportunities such as her "Green Thumbs" Workshops and her "Advanced Specialization in Herbs" program.

Garden communicator, herb enthusiast, author and integral part of the Education Committee, Susan is a constant source of support and inspiration and has helped (and helps) to mold the DCMGA into the vibrant and growing organization that it is todav.