Local Teamwork Produces Two Penn State Extension Search for Excellence Awards

Posted: July 8, 2014

At this year's Penn State Extension Master Gardener State Conference, the Master Gardeners of Pike County were presented with a second place "Search for Excellence - Innovative Projects" award for their Broad Street Pollinator Garden, and a third place "Search for Excellence - Youth Programming" award for a Spider Days educational program.
Pike County Extension Office Pollinator Garden

Pike County Extension Office Pollinator Garden

Innovative Projects

The second place award for Innovative Projects was won by the Pike County Master Gardeners for their actions to revitalize their Master Gardener program and Broad Street garden. Through the efforts of a new coordinator, along with fellow Master Gardeners, they sought to create a bonding partnership with new trainees by working together towards a team goal. This effort was realized through the creation of a demonstration Pollinator Garden at the Penn State Extension Office in Milford.

Pollinator Friendly gardens provide food and habitat for native insects/animals and help support a healthy ecosystem for our community and our future. The existing garden area on the corner of Broad Street and West George Street was rehabilitated and transformed by the unified team through the planning and implementation of preferred pollinator plantings. Existing plants were identified, thinned and relocated, weeded and mulched, while new plantings were researched and added. The garden, which is pleasing to the eye and a feast for pollinating insects, will be used as a teaching tool for passers-by, visitors to the extension office, and planned programs.

Youth Programming

The third place award for Youth Programming was won by the Pike County Master Gardeners for their assistance in planning a program with the Pike County 4-H Educators for The American Readers Theatre Company, who was working with Delaware Valley School fourth grade students to study and dramatize E.B. White’s novel Charlotte’s Web.  The Theatre Company asked the Master Gardeners if they could provide a program that would teach students and teachers scientific facts about real spiders so that students would not only appreciate the fictional character, Charlotte, but also learn about the real spiders they encounter in their homes and outdoors.

In partnership with Pike County 4-H, a lesson plan was formed and implemented to create three group activities for the students. A PowerPoint presentation created by fellow Monroe County Master Gardener Heather Hause described local spiders, their anatomy, their functions in the garden, and their habitat. Student “scribes“ from each class took notes and photos to document what they learned for their classroom.

Spider Days’ in-depth study was reinforced later within three separate groups.  Children played trivial pursuit spider-style by playing a game developed by Susan Conrad, one of Pike’s Master Gardeners. They also learned about arthropod anatomy by building their own spider models. Finally, every class participated in a nature walk around school grounds, looking for and mapping out habitats. The Master Gardeners presented each class with spider frames that were placed outside to attract tenants. Students and adults had a positive experience with E. B. White’s charming Charlotte and learning about spiders and their place in nature.

Pike County Master Gardeners Youth Award

Presenters from L to R: Pike County Master Gardeners Beth Grosso, Mary Ciccolella, Susan Conrad and Angela Williams; Jeffrey Stocker from American Readers Theatre; Monroe County Master Gardener Heather Hause; and 4-H Educators Deborah Albrecht and Debra Brodhecker

These award-winning programs are praiseworthy.  Congratulations!