The 2016 Illinois Master Gardener Conference and Award Ceremony took place on Friday, Aug. 19 at the iHotel and Conference Center in Champaign, Ill.

The day included tours of local gardens and presentations by local educators on topics such as helping the bumble bees, and the benefits of being a gardener.

Following lunch, awards were given to Master Gardeners in areas of Outstanding Master Gardener, Teamwork, and Sustained Excellence.   There were several award winners in each category.

The Boone County local award winner was Master Gardener Bill Van Dusen who received the Outstanding Master Gardener award.

Van Dusen has been a part of the U of I Extension Master Gardener program for the past three years.  He has spent a lot of his time working with the students of Caledonia Elementary School during their garden club days as well as their summer gardening program.

Van Dusen works the help desk found in the Extension office and responds to questions that come in from the community on various issues.  He willingly steps up to participate in the speaker’s bureau and has taught many programs in the community.

The role of a Master Gardener is to educate the community on various horticulture related topics which is what Van Dusen does.  The University of Illinois Boone County Extension office is proud of his accomplishments along with the other Boone County Master Gardeners who volunteer their time to serve and educate the community.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Illinois Master Gardener program, please contact Judy Hodge at the Boone County Extension office at (815) 544-3710 or by email at

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