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University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners from Rock Island and Henry counties received Outstanding Master Gardener awards earlier this month at the state conference in Springfield.

They are: Julia Martin, Coal Valley; Deb O'Brien, Port Byron; Pete Vogel, Moline; and Bob Ward, Kewanee.

Statewide, only 2 percent of active Master Gardeners receive this award. It is given to those who give more 120 hours of volunteer service beyond the required 60-hour internship. They also must exceed in leadership, determination, positivity, initiative and be highly involved in the program.

Other winners:

• Jane Arensdorf, of Moline, received the Sustained Excellence Award which is given to those who previously received the Outstanding Award and have continued to demonstrate distinction in the program.

Since 2011, Arensforf has co-chaired, along with her husband, Dave, the highly successful Riverside Demonstration Gardens. It offers demonstrations of three different types of gardens: edible, ornamental and a monarch waystation. Produce from the edible garden is donated to Youth Hope.

She also helped organize the Container Garden Challenge contest offered by the Master Gardeners in conjunction with the Rock Island County fair over the last four years and managed Plant a Row for the Hungry donations from Riverside Garden since 2011.

• The team of Julia Martin, Coal Valley; Judy Hartley and Linda Clewell, both of Moline; Judy White, Taylor Ridge; Deb O'Brien, Port Byron; and Deb Durnal-Corso, Andalusia, received the Teamwork Award.

This award recognizes projects that make a difference in their community; in this case, it was the Mon-Arc Garden, a garden and educational program developed for the Arc of the Quad-Cities in Rock Island. The Arc is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide services and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental challenges so they can achieve the lives they want to live.

The gardeners designed the garden to be visible and accessible to all clients, including those using wheelchairs by using raised beds, containers and trellises. The gardeners also provide regular gardening lessons from spring to fall. They bring clients to the garden where they are allowed to plant, observe, use their senses, harvest and learn through a wide variety of unique lessons.

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