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Sheng named Oregon Master Gardener of the Year

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Sherry Sheng of West Linn was recently named a 2013 Oregon Master Gardener of the Year. She volunteers with the Clackamas County Master Gardeners and organized the popular 10-Minute University classes held each year during the organizations Spring Garden Fair.

The Oregon State University Extension Service Master Gardeners program, a highly trained volunteer force that educates Oregonians about the art and science of growing and caring for plants, has conferred top honors to its most dedicated ambassadors. Throughout the state, 26 volunteers were honored for their service to their communities.

Sherry Sheng of West Linn is one of two 2013 Oregon Master Gardeners of the Year. She has served as a Master Gardener for seven years. She initiated several new programs, including workshops to teach people how to grow tomatoes and how to propagate new plants by seed and cuttings. She organized the award-winning 10-Minute University education program, short presentations on topics ranging from container planting to pruning trees that reach a general audience of more than 2,000 people a year.

The 10-Minute University classes are held each year at the Spring Garden Fair, hosted by the Clackamas County Master Gardeners. Sheng said that as a result of the program, class participants are able to eat healthier, use less chemicals while gardening and get excited about what they’ve grown.

“Our goal is to provide reliable, relevant information and to be reachable,” said Sheng.

In 2012, Sheng and husband, Spike Wadsworth, established a memorial fund which will establish an endowed professorship in perpetuity — a statewide director that will coordinate with volunteers at the county level to ensure that there is high quality curriculum and instruction available.

“I just want to make sure that I do what I can to give it a solid foundation to sustain the program,” Sheng said in a 2012 interview with Review and Tidings reporter Claire Oliver. “I’m a firm believer that, even though we all benefit from public programs and we should continue to support these public programs thorugh our taxes, voluntary, private contributions should also be part of the picture.”

Claudia Groth of Portland was also recognized as a 2013 Oregon Master Gardener of the Year. She has been a Master Gardener for 24 years and has held top positions with the Multnomah County Master Gardener Association.

Herb Davis and Cathy Burdett were honored with 2013 Behind the Scenes statewide awards.

Master Gardeners are volunteers trained by the OSU Extension Service. They share their knowledge of sustainable gardening and OSU home horticulture resources by volunteering to answer questions and teach classes at their local Extension offices, farmers markets and libraries.

More than 4,100 people across the state are active Master Gardeners. In 2012, Master Gardeners had more than 186,000 interactions with the public statewide. They volunteered more than 194,000 hours, the equivalent of about 95 full-time workers in communities across Oregon, according to Gail Langellotto, statewide coordinator of the Master Gardener program.

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