Phil Bratta was the recipient of the Ogle County Extension Service Master Gardeners’ Green Thumb Award.

The definition of a Master Gardener (also known as Extension Master Gardener) are adult volunteers trained in the science and art of gardening. These individuals help disseminate up-to-date, research-based horticulture information to home gardeners and share the information they learned during their 60 hours of training, as volunteers who advise and educate the public on gardening and horticulture.

Traditionally, the awards banquet has been held indoors in the month of April, but this year, The Ogle County Extension was able to host an outdoor social distance event honoring the contribution our Master Gardeners gave in 2019, on Thursday, Aug. 20.

Several Ogle County Master Gardeners were honored.

The mission of the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program is “Helping Others Learn to Grow.” The Master Gardeners have found a fantastic way to share their talents and give back to the community. They make a difference to the people around them.

Without people who are willing to sacrifice their time and skills to make a difference, the world and our community would be a lot worse off.

In the course of the 2019 year, the following individuals gave 50-plus volunteer hours to Ogle County: Phil Bratta, Larry Ermey, Marcia Heuer, Sally Sarafin, Leona Totosz, and Nettie Weston. Projects included, community gardens, Fairground gardens, Hotline, Jr. Master Gardener, and Therapeutic Horticulture, etc. Sue Paulin was awarded her 15 years of volunteer service pin.

Master Gardener Hotline Award

The next award, the Master Gardener Hotline, plays a key role to help answer and educate the community on flower or vegetable gardening and insect questions to name a few.

Nettie Weston was the Hotline Hero. She thoughtfully researched, advised, and stepped out of her comfort zone to answer community questions. If you have a garden question, give the Hotline a call on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 9 a.m. to Noon at 815-732-2191 or email

Spice of Life Award

The Spice of Life award went to Sally Sarafin. She gives a tremendous amount of time to thoughtfully document Ogle County Master Gardeners as our Historian.

Sally is always ready to lend a hand and others know they can count on her to help with Ready, Set, Grow our annual gardening workshop held at Sauk Valley Community College, our Plant Sale and contribute to our monthly meetings, her actions, whether big or small have influenced someone’s life.

The Golden Trowel Award

These Master Gardeners gave over 100 hours to Ogle County. The community is very lucky to have such powerful individuals living right next door. Studies have found that when you stop thinking about your own problems and focus on someone other than yourself, your stress levels start to decrease; your immune system is strengthened, and your overall sense of life satisfaction increases. 100 plus volunteer hours of service: Sara Pohl with 101.25, Kathy Michel 120.75, and Leah Patapack 216.25!

Green Thumb Award

The final award given for the evening was the coveted Green Thumb award. This award was created to recognize a Master Gardener that is well rounded, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, a role model, has a love of gardening, involved in multiple projects and was voted for by his or her peers. The Most Valuable Planter (Green Thumb) award went to Phil Bratta.

For more information about the University of Illinois Extension, Master Gardener Program, Ogle County please contact, Elizabeth Sosa, 421 W. Pines Rd, Suite 10 Oregon, IL 61061, 815-732-2191 or visit us at


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