The Macon County Master Gardeners began planning the Rain Barrel Workshop in the summer of 2007. The first hour-long workshop was offered to Master Gardeners with the aim of perfecting a moderately priced and accessible project for individuals of all skill levels. The Master Gardeners began offering the workshop to the public and over 300 rain barrels have been constructed to date. Public interest has increased and there is currently a waiting list for classes! As word spread the Master Gardeners seized the opportunity to take their idea “on the road” and began teaching other Master Gardeners from nine separate counties not only how to construct the rain barrels, but how to host their own workshops. The Master Gardeners are expanding their program and co-taught a rain barrel presentation via teleconference throughout the state of Illinois in April 2011.
Juvenile Detention Center Community Garden- Champaign County, Illinois
Champaign County Master Gardeners who volunteer at Champaign County Juvenile Detention Center, won 2nd place in the International Master Gardener Convention, Search for Excellence Award, October 14, 2011 in Charleston, West Virginia. Master Gardeners have dedicated the last eight years developing an exceptional horticulture program at Juvenile Detention Center. The garden provides different forms of engagement for youth, including designing, planting, and maintain gardens; harvesting, preparing, and sharing food; working cooperatively in groups; learning about science and nutrition; and incorporating literacy.
The mission of Champaign County Master Gardeners is to “Help Others Learn to Grow.” Every Thursday afternoon, you will see this motto in practice at the Juvenile Detention Center in Urbana. The community garden at Champaign JDC is the site of a year round educational program focused on at-risk youth ages 12-17. Working inside during the winter on interactive lessons the Master Gardeners prepare their students for spring and summer when they work outdoors maintaining the gardens on a weekly basis.
Working around the inherent restrictions of a secured facility, the Master gardeners have used their creativity to create relevant and exciting lessons. Some the most popular lessons are the salsa-making lesson where students experiment with produce grown in their garden and an indoor lesson that exposes students to familiar and unfamiliar produce (pumpkins, watermelons, squash etc.) while collaborating with a music professor who brings international instruments made from gourds. Master Gardeners and teen-agers have also created a habitat for Monarch butterflies. The garden is now a certified Monarch Waystation. The garden was also a feature of the 2011 Master Gardeners Garden Walk.
The Emerald Ash Borer/Ash Tree Inventory project by the Boone County Illinois Master Gardeners was awarded first place in the Innovative Projects Category at the International Master Gardener conference. Barbara Wych, chairperson for this project tells us about this award winning effort:
Boone County Master Gardeners show the results of mapping ash tree locations in one township which was surveyed.
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) First Found in Michigan
In the summer of 2002, a ½” long bright metallic beetle native to areas of Asia, was first discovered in the United States near Detroit, Michigan. This insect is the Emerald Ash Borer and as its name implies, it only uses ash trees during its life cycle. Tree damage occurs as the larvae or borer feeds on the inner bark, effectively disrupting the movement of water and nutrients and ultimately killing the tree. If the Emerald Ash Borer is not contained and eradicated the impact of this borer on ash trees in North America will be similar to that of chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease.
EAB discovered in Illinois in 2006
Four years later, in 2006, the insect was discovered in Illinois. Since Boone County is near this Illinois site, in 2009, the Boone County Master Gardeners took the opportunity to be proactive in the community. We formed a partnership with the city and county governments, Illinois Department of Ag., the parks and conservation districts, Extension educators and staff.
Ash tree inventory helps community understand EAB impacts, make informed decisions
As part of the partnership, the Boone County Master Gardeners conducted an ash tree inventory by recording the GPS coordinates, measuring tree diameters and assessing the health of all ash trees on all county, township and city right of ways. This information was entered into the county’s Geographic Information System (GIS) which plotted color coded locations of all the ash trees; green for healthy, yellow for declining and red for dead. The Emerald Ash Borer/ Ash Tree Inventory project was conducted with two goals that were successfully met; to
1) provide the county with accurate ash tree impact data for resource planning and budgeting, and
2) to educate the community on Emerald Ash Borer facts to enable them to make informed decisions.
County Ash Tree Inventory saves $10,000
In the process, the Master Gardeners inventoried nearly 3200 ash trees with almost 500 volunteer hours. The inventory process was a cost savings of over $10,000 to the county but beyond that showed the value of Master Gardeners as a significant part of the community.