NEW BRUNSWICK — Two Rutgers Master Gardeners won the 2012 Award for Excellence in the Rutgers Master Gardener program for Middlesex County. On Saturday, Oct. 6, the annual Statewide Master Gardener Fall Conference was held at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Attending the event were Master Gardeners, Cooperative Extension staff and several guest speakers.
Since 2009, Dale Duchai of Cranbury has volunteered nearly 470 hours to the county as a Rutgers Master Gardener, becoming known as “Madam Butterfly.” Her passion is evident through the work and care she lends to the Butterfly House at Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s office, the EARTH Center in South Brunswick. She has created a tour and educated residents in butterfly identification, butterfly life cycles and preferred host plants. Her enthusiasm is contagious and she is responsible for little butterfly houses being constructed in many backyards in Middlesex County. She also can be found tagging adult Monarch butterflies as part of the National Monarch Watch (www.monarchwatch.org).
Angelo Gagliano of Piscataway became a Rutgers Master Gardener in 2010 and already has volunteered more than 280 hours. He has updated the Master Gardeners online presence by launching a website (www.MGMCNJ.org) and online forum bringing the Master Gardener community closer together within Middlesex County. Through personal experience he has become an expert on recommending deer resistant plants, and has developed his own recipe for organic deer repellant. Angelo also volunteers his horticultural talents at the Center for Lifelong Learning, a school for handicapped children.
In Middlesex County, Master Gardeners are community volunteers, trained in earth-friendly gardening and environmental principles. MGs are trained through class room lecture time and hands-on practical application of sound horticulture practices. They are required to volunteer time to their local extension office as a way of educating Middlesex County citizens in environmental stewardship. Their headquarters is the EARTH Center, in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park, 42 Riva Ave. South Brunswick. Activities include answering resident inquiries on the MG Helpline, EARTH Center garden maintenance, harvesting produce for food banks and horticultural therapy.
If you are interested in Middlesex County’s Master Gardener program, call 1-732-398-5278 for an application or visit www.mgmcnj.org/forms/mgapplication.php.