skip to main content

News & Events

Master Gardeners honored at awards luncheon

Posted 6/15/2010

By Robert Mills

Linn Mills and Robert Morris - honored guests at appreciation luncheon.

Linn Mills and Prof. Robert Morris, UNCE

UNCE’s Master Gardeners celebrated numerous accomplishments at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon on June 2. Among the exceptional service awards, 10-year service awards and awards for volunteering more than 100 hours in a single year, Master Gardeners celebrated another milestone — the 1,000th Master Gardener trained since the Las Vegas program’s inception.

Linn Mills, a noted horticulturalist and former UNCE area director, and UNCE Professor Bob Morris were honored guests of the event. The two avid gardeners started the Las Vegas program in 1992—almost 20 years ago—in order to spread their knowledge throughout the region. The original Master Gardener program started in the state of Washington in 1972.

Nine Master Gardeners received honors for 10 years of volunteer service. Some recipients of the 10-year-service pin, such as Jane Gillespie, have volunteered well over 3,300 hours since joining the program.

Antoinette Edmunds, UNCE and MG Cliff Wood, Silver Trowel Award

Antoinette Edmunds, UNCE and MG Cliff Wood,
Silver Trowel Award

Master Gardeners are asked to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours each year in order to remain in the program. Many award recipients went above and beyond this request. Cliff Wood, a Master Gardener since 2002, received the Silver Trowel Award for contributing more than 776 hours this last year.

"Cliff is a Master Gardener on a dual mission," one nominee wrote of Wood. "He answers the public’s questions on gardening, and he promotes the Master Gardener program. He is on the help line all day every Tuesday, at the farmers market information table on Thursday, and at the orchard or staffing community events booths on Saturday."

Since Nevada is the Silver State, silver awards are the program’s highest honors. Richard Cutbirth, who became a Master Gardener in 2004, won the Silver Phone award for volunteering the most hours on the group’s home gardening help line.

"Richard contributed 91 shifts," one nominee wrote of Cutbirth. "That’s 273 volunteer hours. He is a friendly, helpful voice to all callers. He is an avid researcher, and he relishes the unusual questions he encounters."

Six Master Gardeners received awards for volunteering more than 100 hours on the Master Gardener help line. Hosts honored 26 group members who served as project chairpersons for various projects such as desert landscaping, farmers markets, junior Master Gardener programs and many more. Eight volunteers received awards for contributing over 400 hours of service in one year.

Six group members were honored with the Fabbi — Leifried Exceptional Service award, which recognizes long-term dedication to the Master Gardener program and is based on nominations by fellow Master Gardeners.

MG Richard Cutbirth, Silver Phone Award and Dr. Angela O’Callaghan, UNCE

MG Richard Cutbirth, Silver Phone Award and Dr.
Angela O’Callaghan, UNCE

The Master Gardener program is open to all individuals who accept the training and volunteer commitment. Master Gardeners have completed 72 hours (24 classes) of horticultural training offered by UNCE. They share their knowledge and desert gardening skills through the Home Gardening Help Line (702-257-5555), public presentations, information booths and community projects. Master Gardeners are experienced in successfully growing plants in the Mojave Desert — the hottest, driest and coldest of the North American deserts. This is an environment unfamiliar to many newcomers. By teaching what to plant and how to properly care for their landscapes or gardens, Master Gardeners save people money — on water, soil amendments, plant materials, etc.

2010 Master Gardener Awards Recipients

The Silver Trowel Award -- Cliff Wood, MG ’02, for contributing 776.25 hours in the last year.

The Silver Phone Award Richard Cutbirth, MG ’04, for the most number of hours on the Home Gardening Help Line.

Help Line Volunteers -- Awarded to Master Gardeners who volunteered over 100 hours on the Home Gardening Help Line.

  • Cliff Wood: 150 shifts, 450 hours
  • Richard Leifried: 129 shifts, 387 hours
  • Al Valdez: 50 shifts, 150 hours
  • Dan Gilmour: 41 shifts, 123 hours
  • Jane Gillespie: 38 shifts, 114 hours
  • Judith Kafantaris: 35 shifts, 105 hours

Leadership-—Awarded to Master Gardeners who served as a Project Chairperson:

  • Barb McGibbon: Acacia Park Demonstration Gardens
  • Martyna Gonzalez: Archie C. Grant Community Garden
  • Jann Shevin: Community Events
  • Don Fabbi: Doolittle Senior Center Community Garden
  • Judith Kafantaris: Fair/Home Show
  • Helen Brown: Farmer’s Market
  • Denise Halvorson: Helping Hands
  • Jane Gillespie: Home Gardening Help Line
  • Maria White: Hosting
  • Virginia Smith: Hosting
  • Char Leclerc: Junior MG
  • Mel Hengen: Landscape Design with the Desert in Mind
  • Arlene Ralbovsky: Library
  • Jean Engelmann: Library
  • Pat Westlund: Lieburn Senior Center Community Garden
  • Joy Mandekic: Nathan Adelson Hospice Healing Garden
  • Pete Karnoski: Nellis Environmental Grove
  • Jim Stone: Orchard
  • Clara Hatz: PLANT (Project for Landscape and Natural Tranquility)
  • Mary Rider: Springs Preserve Mojave Guides/Docents
  • Vicki Yuen: Springs Propagation/Watering
  • Peg Cornett: Springs Propagation/Watering
  • Winnie Chappell: UNCE Desert Landscaping
  • Paula Garrett: UNCE Desert Landscaping
  • Mike Marryat: UNCE Desert Landscaping
  • Mary Lawton: Winchester Park

Silver Stars -- Awarded to Master Gardeners who volunteered over 400 hours on Master Gardener community Projects.

  • Richard Cutbirth: 611
  • Mel Hengen: 566
  • Jane Gillespie: 483.50
  • Gena Grizzle: 462
  • Barb McGibbon: 451.50
  • Jeanne Fitzgerald: 440.50
  • Peg Cornett: 408
  • Kevin Cabble: 400.50

The Fabbi — Leifried Exceptional Service Award -- This award is named in honor of Don Fabbi and Richard Leifried for their long-term dedication and contributions to the Master Gardener program. This award is based on nominations from the Master Gardener membership.

Award Recipients:

Cathy Bruno, MG ’97, 2237 volunteer hours -- Cathy is a volunteer instructor in the MG Training Program where she teaches Container Gardening. Her elaborate "show and tell" gardening display is always a hit with the students. She is always well prepared and surprises many MGs with how much they did not know about this so-called "easy" subject. This year (2010) she even volunteered to teach the class during Spring Break — her only vacation from her PhD studies!

Denise Halvorson, MG ’00, 1120.85 volunteer hours -- Denise’s energy and generosity are boundless. She reinvigorated the Helping Hands project, and has assembled teams to assist the Master Gardeners. She organizes the work parties and pitches in whenever needed. She is a long-time Mojave guide, and has been an avid researcher and presenter for them. In addition, she graciously opened her home to MGs from across the county at last year’s International Master Gardener Conference garden tour.

Mel Hengen, MG ’95, 7995.15 volunteer hours -- Mel Hengen teaches the Irrigation classes for the MG Training as well as a popular, 8-week course, "Landscape Design with the Desert in Mind." He is "Mr. Irrigation" to MGs in Las Vegas, Pahrump, Logandale, Mesquite, Kingman, Bullhead City, Laughlin, and places beyond. He’s logged more mileage than just about any other MG! He demystifies basic watering and irrigation concepts, and leads students through all the steps to their own water-efficient landscape plan. His patience and gentle wit make him a popular instructor.

Nancy McNeish, MG ’96, 1071.00 volunteer hours -- Nancy McNeish has supported many different projects since becoming a MG. Among them are the Kids Cooperative Program, the Junior Master Gardener Program, Mojave Guide and the Propagation Team. Over the years the DDG/LV Springs has also benefited from her work as a landscaper, planter and pruner. Most recently she lent her landscape design skills to a community garden project at Floyd Lamb Park. She accomplished this with her normal professional style. As one of several nominators wrote, "Nancy has been an inspiration to me and countless others in the horticultural community of Southern Nevada."

Denise McConnell, MG ’97, 791.00 volunteer hours -- Denise McConnell’s enthusiasm for teaching is contagious. The evaluations for her “Landscape Design with Desert Plants” class elicit comments such as: "Wow! Super Program! Fantastic Presenter! Come back!" She clearly explains design concepts, identifies plant characteristics, and shows how to create a colorful palette using desert-appropriate plants. Her photos are awesome, and her descriptions are inspiring. Students especially value her tree and plant id section, and her practical planting tips.

Bob Stauffer, MG ’94, 1008.00 volunteer hours -- Dr. Bob Stauffer teaches Environmentally Friendly Pest Control. Bob’s passion to educate the public on pesticide issues shines in his presentation. The students appreciate "all his great alternative ideas and making us aware of the dangers of commercial pesticides." Bob’s somewhat unusual recipes and his explanations as to how they work are entertaining as well as educational. One of the most poignant testimonials to his impact is: "I discovered I’ve been hurting my family."

« Return to previous page