Michigan Master Gardener earns 2015 community volunteer award

Carol Fitzgerald’s Master Gardener project of an educational garden surrounding a local library has earned her the 2015 Phil Niemisto Volunteer Award in her community.

Advanced Master Gardener Carol Fitzgerald (left) accepts the 2015 Phil Niemisto Volunteer Award from Barb Kelley (right), awards committee chair of the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee. Photo by Tami Dawidowski.

Advanced Master Gardener Carol Fitzgerald (left) accepts the 2015 Phil Niemisto Volunteer Award from Barb Kelley (right), awards committee chair of the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee. Photo by Tami Dawidowski.

Recently awarded the 2015 Phil Niemisto Volunteer Award by the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee, advanced Master Gardener Carol Fitzgerald continues to expand community beautification and gardening education opportunities to the visitors of the Peter White Library in Marquette, Michigan.

In 2007, Fitzgerald initiated and created the educational gardens that now surround the Peter White Library as her volunteer project after completing the educational component of the Michigan State University Extension Master Gardener program. The gardens are a welcoming addition to the historic building where visitors now enjoy sitting on benches beneath shade trees, taking a stroll through the concrete paths lining the gardens and using the gardens as beautiful backdrops for wedding photos.

Expansion of the children’s garden is a current goal of Fitzgerald’s. With the help of two Master Gardener trainees, Marci Niemi and Kris Martin, the project was recently launched. Located along the south side of the library’s building, this new garden area borders the children’s library. Along with expanding the garden to cover the entire south side, plans include additional pathways for garden visitors and terracing to manage a slope to reduce erosion. Appropriate plant selection will take place as well as the installation and continued maintenance. Plans for this area also include raised beds for children’s vegetable gardening where future children’s summer gardening programs can take place.

Fitzgerald continues to work on the sustainability of the gardens. Anyone who would like to donate funds to help support the gardens can do so. The funds go to help maintain the garden supplies; mulch, new plants and the children’s garden expansion are costs that occur annually. The Master Gardeners and other volunteers who work in the garden and help maintain it do not receive any compensation for their efforts.

Fitzgerald’s passion of gardening and her continued dedication to the Michigan Master Gardener program are appreciated and well deserving of this community award! We look forward to the growth of the children’s garden and the seeds it might plant.

If you are interested in the Michigan Master Gardener program, please visit the Master Gardener website. For more information on a wide variety of Smart Gardening topics, visit the Gardening in Michigan website at www.migarden.msu.edu or contact MSU’s toll-free garden hotline at 1-888-678-3464.

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