Statement issued Monday:
The Search for Excellence is over, and who would have thought you could find it in Noble County.
On Friday, October 14, 2011, in Charleston, West Virginia at the 2011 International Master Gardener Conference, a delegation of five members representing Noble County Master Gardeners received the 2011 International Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award as well as monetary award.
The 2011 International Search for Excellence Award was sponsored by The National Gardening Association and Extension Master Gardener. There were over 101 projects submitted for these awards from all over the United States and Canada. The five categories for the awards were Special Needs Audience, Workshop or Presentation, Youth Project, Demonstration Garden and Innovative Project.
The project submitted by the Noble County Master Gardeners was the Chain O’ Lakes Department of Corrections Horticulture and Landscaping Design Classes in the Special Needs Audience Category, which received first place.
The Chain O’ Lakes DOC classes were designed to give education and knowledge to minimum security offenders with an opportunity to learn landscaping and landscape design, along with general horticulture skills which could be used to provide personal skills, accountability and the completion of an approved course that will aid offenders’ ability to obtain work in their home community upon release from the Department of Corrections.
Volunteer Master Gardeners from Noble and LaGrange counties started teaching classes in October of 2009 with twenty five offenders. Course study was over 19 weeks, with class room and hands on participation by the offenders. Two classes have graduated through the program as of March 13, 2011, with the third class starting December 2011. Each graduating class has taken their study to the next level and planned and implemented a vegetable garden, with the majority of the food grown having been donated to the local food pantry for distribution for the needy.
The Noble County Master Gardeners partnered with The Indiana Department of Correction – Chain O’ Lakes Facility, Superintendent Kathy Griffin at Chain O’ Lakes DOC and former Superintendent Michael Cunegin, Purdue University CES of Noble County, Extension Educators Doug Keenan, Janeen Longfellow, Hanson Young. Master Gardeners instrumental in teaching classes were as follows: Noble County Master Gardeners - Bruce Kennedy, Marilyn Carunchia, Sherri Delong, Julie Claymiller, Sara Weeks, Charles Sweeney, Janet Sweeney, Mary Cook, Jackie Gordon, Al Huth, Kathy Burns, Elizabeth “Liz” Lightner, Sara Lake, Jeff Zawadzke, Charlie Krusz, Connie Davis and LaGrange County Master Gardeners – Gwen “Rink” Rinker and Jim Lewis.
The Noble County Master Gardeners would like to thank Hanson Young, former Ag & Natural Resources Educator in Noble County, Kathy Griffin and Mike Cunegin at Chain O’Lakes DOC whom without their assistance this program would not have been possible.