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Master Gardener of the Year Awards Received

Lewis Shontell teaches water conservation, rain barrels and mulching to a group at Virginia Western Community Arboretum.

Virginia Cooperative Extension has announce that two Master Gardener volunteers have received the Master Gardener of the Year Award bestowed by the Roanoke Master Gardener Association.  This award goes to those who go above and beyond to ensure that educational outreach and programs in horticulture and local gardening continue in the Roanoke Valley.

Kathryn Debnar has been a Roanoke VCE volunteer since Fall of ’01, having trained with the local group.  Kathryn has been a past President and present officer and served on nearly every team and committee over the years so she could “really understand all that we do.”

Kathryn is currently the Corresponding Secretary of RMGA.  She has also served on Virginia Master Gardener Association committees and has worked and traveled extensively to shape policy and programming.  Her tireless efforts to raise money for the MG Endowment Fund ensures that Virginia continues to have a State Master Gardener Coordinator. Kathryn’s dedication, attitude, and example have made her stand out by her exemplary service to the community.

Lewis Shontell came to VCE in Fall of ’06 after his retirement from the medical community.  Lewis also received his training in Roanoke and has a particular interest in children’s programs and community gardens.  His faith led him to start a community garden with children at his church, which in subsequent years blossomed into a program for adults.  The produce is shared within their church community.  The camaraderie and education it provides lasts way beyond the benefit of the meal.

Lewis works with patience and diligence to make sure that life’s lessons are not lost to the youth.  Lewis is very involved with the 4-H program, being involved with both the Home Garden Project for school- aged children and the 4-H summer camp.  A real hands-on gardener, Lewis knows gardening from the soil up.  Watching crops grow teaches patience, and Lewis has plenty.  Lewis also took the Master Food Volunteer training and volunteers for the Family and Consumer Science agent with food and nutrition programming.

While there are many people who are involved in the community from the sidelines, these two volunteers roll up their sleeves and get dirty for what they believe in!

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