2017-10-05 / Around Town

Master Gardener of the Year Named

The University of Rhode Island Master Gardener Program recognized its Master Gardener of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and Gardening Project of the Year as part of the program’s celebration of its 40th anniversary.

“We have an incredibly talented group of about 600 Master Gardeners who serve as community educators for Cooperative Extension,” said Vanessa Venturini, the state leader of the URI Master Gardener Program. “The awards are a fun way to celebrate 40 years of service to the community and to acknowledge some of the stars of the program.”

The Master Gardener Project of the Year award honors outstanding volunteer group projects that educate Rhode Island communities on how to enhance and care for the environment. The winning project involved the installation of dinghies repurposed into large container gardens at the Newport Harbor Walk, which has been visited by about 100,000 people since it was established in 2015.

Installed in collaboration with Friends of the Waterfront, the project features native plants and monarch butterfly habitats installed at points of public access to the waterfront. In 2017, the project expanded to include a demonstration rain garden in King Park. Project volunteers hosted gardening workshops for the public, offered tours of the harbor walk, and collaborated with Rogers High School to make the project sustainable for years to come.

The project leader was Johanna Vietry of Newport and included URI Master Gardener volunteers Casey Farley of Newport, Cheryl Hahn of North Scituate, Cheryl Mc- Carron of East Greenwich, Carole Steinbrenner of Newport, Charlene Sullivan of Newport, Catherine Swanson of Newport, Dave Vissoe of South Kingstown and Robert Walker of Newport.

Other awards presented: Rudi Hempe of Narragansett was recognized as the Master Gardener of the Year, having accrued more than 15,000 hours of volunteer service to the Master Gardener Program in the last 20 years. The Master Gardener Rookie of the Year was presented to David Vissoe of South Kingstown. Theresa Melvin of Cumberland was also recognized with a lifetime achievement award.

For more information about how to become a URI Master Gardener, contact Venturini at 401-874-7142 or vanessa@uri.edu or visit URI Master Gardener.

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