Celebrating Master Gardeners in the field

Annual Recognition Awards for outstanding volunteers

Master Gardener Recognition Awards

Each year the Foundation and the King County Program join efforts to recognize and celebrate our Master Gardeners and give credit for the thousands of hours donated by volunteers. Their time and talents give life to our plant clinics, our demonstration gardens, and our ongoing service projects. Each year’s recognition event acknowledges the work of these volunteers and their exceptional commitment to the Master Gardeners in the leadership roles they assume.

Group shot of Master Gardeners receiving awards

Pictured here are some of the National Gold Presidential Awardees

Above: Jim Olson, Gary Scheider, Joan Baldwin (President), Penny Kriese, Carol Laurier

Below: Sarah Moore (Program Coordinator) and Joan Baldwin (President) with awardee Daryl Schlesser

2023 Gold Awardee - Daryl Schlesser with Sarah Moore and Joan Baldwin

Outstanding Master Gardener Awards

Master Gardeners nominate their peers for the King County program’s Outstanding Master Gardener Award. These nominations acknowledge the volunteers’ degree of commitment and their ability to inspire others. In addition to these nominations, there are four awards that are presented by the Foundation, which include the National Gold Presidential Award, the Foundation Award, the President’s Award and the Program Coordinator’s Award. It is their exceptional commitment and enthusiasm and willingness to take on leadership roles in the program that sets these awardees apart.

Team Awards

Team awards are presented to groups of Master Gardeners making a difference on a leadership team or at a specific location.

2023 Basic Training Steering Team

The steering team launched when we were between WSU Program Coordinators, ensuring critical activities occurred on schedule and improving curriculum organization and processes. Innovations and teamwork lead to a more effective experience for our 2023 Trainees.

Team: Carrie Hill, Gary Scheider, April Creasey, Darla Gatte, Anne Neilson and Ron Groepper

New Clinic Leaders/CICs/Schedulers for 2023

A number of individual clinic leadership teams welcomed new volunteers to one of more of the leadership roles in 2023. These are:

Clinic Leaders
Andrea Borning, University District
Ann Rodak, Woodland Park / Wallingford
April Creasey, Snoqualmie Valley
Carol Laurier, Email Clinic
Claire Acey, Burien / Des Moines
Jacqueline Houston, Woodland Park / Wallingford
Kathy Kreps, Vashon Island
Kelly Morris, Snoqualmie Valley
Michael McKee, SoDo
Susan Sparrowhawk, Burien / Des Moines
Terry Dievendorf, Ballard Fred Meyer

Clinic Response Coordinator
Vicki Sironen, Email Clinic

Clinic Schedulers
Amanda Gibson, Redmond
Marianne Scholl, Ballard Fred Meyer
Natalie Remedios, Bellevue Home Depot
Nicole Stanley, Burien / Des Moines
Siobhan Persson, Snoqualmie
Susan Bell, Ballard Fred Meyer

Clinic Information Coordinators

Amber Wise, SoDo
April Creasey, Snoqualmie Valley
Barbara McPherson, Kent / Covington
Karen Gardiner, Snoqualmie Valley
Lisa Nash, Lake Forest Park / Shoreline
Stacey Sawyer, Kent / Covington
Tracy Mehlin, Ballard Farmers Market

2023 Mentors

Mentors act to guide their mentor group of Intern Trainees through the rigorous Master Gardener training program. They act as guides and as a source of information, personalizing and enriching the training experience. The 2023 mentors are:

Amy Kaminishi
Anne Nielson
Beth Bronger Jones
Beth Naczkowski
Bruce Caredio
Chanda Welch
Carol Laurier
Carrie Hill
Cathy Williams
Essie Munoz

Gary Scheider
Genevieve Patterson Beaton
Janyce Lauhon-Horton
Jim Pister
Jim Wiesen
Leslie Savina
Linda Kaufman
Lisa Marahrens
Lisa Siegel
Maria Gerace

Molly van der Burch
Natalie Remedios
Patricia Tuor
Philip Fordyce
Susan Zachwieja
Tracy Mehlin
Trish Bloor
Virginia Gorski
Wesa Anderson

Foundation Website Migration Team

The Foundation Website was due for an upgrade, which had to take place in the background as the existing website continued to handle ongoing fundraising activities and class communications. The team worked with the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State with a unified website approach and design, launching the new website in May 2023.

Team: Penny Kriese, Kathy Kreps, Nori Hawkins, April Creasey

Diagnostic Teaching Team

In June, the Diagnostic Lab hosted an advanced training course for our Master Gardeners, designed to enhance their skills in plant disease diagnosis and treatment.

Teaching Team: Faith Gant, Sue Nichols, Penny Kreise, Elaine Sherbrook, Dawn Rubstello

Bellevue Demonstration Garden Team

The steering committee keeps the business of the garden on schedule. Interns have been amazing, helping the seasoned volunteers maintain and learn from the garden on a weekly basis.

Steering Committee: Alice Park, Barbara Picat, Bethlyn Miller, Bruce Caredio, Linda Peterson, Marcia Dillon, Susan Zachwieja, Wendy Fawcett

Interns: All the interns who showed up week after week, willing to participate in garden projects no matter how big or how small – with a can-do attitude.

Carkeek Demonstration Garden Team

Drexie Malone and her team of regular volunteers have worked for a decade to create a mostly native garden from an overgrown forest.

Team Lead: Drexie Malone

Finn Hill Demonstration Garden Team

The group founded and built Finn Hill from scratch. Although the garden is closing, the group continues to pursue opportunities for educating the community at Kenmore’s Rhododendron Park.

Team Leads: Sharon O’Grady and Carol Johnson

Lake City Intern Team

This great group of interns exhibited exceptional plant knowledge and a deep understanding of northwest natives, answering questions with humor and patience.

Team: Gretchen Van Kekeriks, Susan Fenner, Kathryn Anderson

Bellevue Botanical Garden Planters Team

Karen Tollefson and Molly Van der Burch led a team, ensuring the large containers at the garden’s entrance are filled with stunning plant material. They design, plant, re-plant and develop an optimal watering schedule all to showcase our Master Gardener Program.

Team: Molly van der Burch, Karen Tollefson, Diana Koch, Denise Halvorson, Janile Martin, Pauline O’Rourke

Dynamic Duo Awards

Dynamic Duo awards are presented to pairs of Master Gardeners making a difference on a Program team or at a specific location.

Sharon O’Grady and Carol Johnson

This duo has worked tirelessly on the Finn Hill Garden for many years, to the delight of the Catholic Church parishioners and food bank. They have shared their enthusiasm through educational outreach.

Susan Sparrowhawk and Claire Acey

New co-leaders of the Burien/Des Moines Clinic, they have completed their first year and shepherding the group through a very successful clinic season.

Bruce Williams and Laura Watson

Members of the MG Speaker Bureau for many years, they are both retiring this year. They are both prolific presenters, their talks are highly regarded and they will be missed.

Gia Parsons and Janine Allen

New leaders for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative begun this past year. They have developed a plan and identified a team of volunteers as passionate as they are about ensuring our program effectively serves all cultures and ethnicities.

Katie Testin and Kelly Bosworth

Two interns who volunteered at the Children’s Garden Plot(s) at Magnuson Park and took over weekly watering and harvesting food to be donated to the food pantry – all summer long!

Lin Provost and Tujuana Simon

Members of the Technology Team, they have partnered to support the critical initial stages of a project to replace the outdated computer hardware and software for our Diagnostic Laboratory.

Penny Kriese and Carol Laurier

As Email Clinic Group Leaders, these two are highly effective leaders and organizers of the large team we have responding to emails with professional responses backed by credible scientific research.

Individual Awards

Individual awards are presented to Master Gardeners nominated by their peers as outstanding Master Gardeners. Individuals nominated this year for going the extra mile are listed below:

Anne Neilson
April Creasey
Barbara Waxman
Beth Naczkowski
Bruce Caredio
Carol Laurier
Daryl Schlesser
Drexie Malone
Elaine Sherbrook
Gary Scheider
Gudrun Utz
Jeff Cox

Joe Jennings
Lin Provost
Lois Hanson
Marcia Campbell Dillon
Mary Warren
Maxine Smith
Mostafa Mokhtari
Nancy Purcell
Randi Smith
Rhonda Dafforn
Richard Newman
Steve Behnen

National Gold Presidential Award

This award is presented to Master Gardeners who go above and beyond in the number of hours worked during a calendar year (greater than 400 hours in a year). Awardees for both 2021 and 2022 are shown below.

Carol Laurier 2022
Carrie Hill 2021
Daryl Schlesser 2021, 2022
Gary Scheider 2022
Jim Olson 2022
Lucy Homans 2022
Penny Kriese 2021, 2022

Program Coordinator Award

Emily Bishton is receiving this award for her extensive years of enthusiastic support of many aspects of our program. She is currently working remotely from Arizona. From 1996 – 2021, she served 200 – 2000 hours per year, developing children’s programming, designing demonstration gardens and cultivating new Master Gardeners. Emily designed and led children’s gardens, wrote a newsletter, wrote a book for the KCMG Program entitled “Dirty Knees: 30 years of King Co. Youth Programs”, which resulted in her being nominated for and awarded WA State MG of the Year in 2005. Emily has  been an active member of the Magnuson Children’s Garden Committee since 2003, including co-chair from 2007-2011 and chair from 2012-2017. Her volunteer work has included teaching youth and family classes, teaching sustainable gardening practices to community volunteers at stewardship events, and mentoring MG interns. Emily has let us know that 2023 is her last year in the Master Gardener Program, but that she will be eternally our supporter, wellwisher and friend. It is with gratitude and pleasure that we award her the Program Coordinator Award for 2023.

How to Nominate: Master Gardeners are invited to nominate a fellow King County MG for their extraordinary efforts. In 2024, we will provide a form to nominate your 2024 Outstanding Master Gardener volunteer or team.

Gray steel watering can in garden

Foundation Awards

In 2015 the Foundation created two awards that recognize individuals or groups whose work directly benefits the Foundation.

The President’s Award is given for work on specific projects that have significant impact on the education programs that are part of our fundraising efforts.

The Board of Directors presents the Foundation Award for work on projects whose impact significantly helps the Foundation meet its financial goals in the current year.

We’ve had decades of success in the field across King County and invite you to review the Award Winners from previous years.

President’s Award

Photo of Cleo Raulerson smiling by hydrangeas

Sharon O’Grady received the 2023 President’s Award for her devotion to the Master Gardener Program, her leadership at the Finn Hill Demo Garden and now the Kenmore Rhododendron Gardens, and her enthusiasm to share knowledge through teaching and speaking. Her commitment to sharing the Master Gardener experience to the community and volunteers is sincere, generous, and shows a high level of commitment to the purpose of KCMGs. She excels at leadership, encouraging those who volunteer with her to share their knowledge and find their niche in the Master Gardener Program. Sharon leads by example, cultivates leaders amongst her team by encouragement, lighting the spark of creativity and empowerment.

Foundation Award

Photo of 4 recipient winners

Jim Olson received the 2023 Foundation Award for constantly working on ways to improve the program. He seems tireless in these pursuits and is always available to answer questions and deal with suggestions, whether it be Redmond Saturday Market MG Clinic issues or MG Foundation issues.  He has taught innumerable gardening classes especially relating to vegetable gardening.  He recently gave a Bellevue Demo Garden talk about water in the garden which was excellent.  In addition he has served as President of the Board of Directors for the KCMGF until this year. Jim has been an incredibly effective clinic leader for a number of years at the Redmond Saturday Market MG Clinic.  He also has been deeply involved in improving metrics for determining clinic contacts. Jim is constantly presenting new things and ways to improve clinic operations.

Find out more about the 2023 annual recognition awards in the 2023 November-December newsletter article (link will be available soon).

Bonsai tree in terracotta pot

We Count on Your Generous Support

Every non-profit organization relies on the generosity of the public to help fund its mission and support its programs. If you believe in what we do and want to help drive environmental education in your community, please consider donating to the Master Gardener Foundation of King County. With your generous support, we’re able to fund grass roots advocacy for ecological stewardship of our shared natural resources. Explore ways you can donate today for a greener tomorrow!