Public Info

Master Gardener Sets New Volunteer Record

Freeholder Angel G. Estrada (l.) visited the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County 26th Annual Pin Party volunteer recognition ceremony to help celebrate with Master Gardener Caryl Hannemann (2nd l.), who received the Wesley Philo Award for Volunteer Excellence. Also joining the ceremony were Freeholder Vernell Wright (3rd l.) and Rutgers Agricultural Agent Madeline Flahive (far r.), who coordinates the Master Gardeners Program. Ms. Hannemann holds a hand embroidered pillow that replicates her award certificate, made especially for her by fellow Master Gardener Joan Horn. (Photo credit: Master Gardener T.J. Karns)

Union County, NJ – The Annual Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County Wesley Philo Award for Volunteer Excellence has been awarded to Caryl Hannemann of Berkeley Heights, in recognition of her outstanding dedication to community service. As a certified Master Gardener since 1990, Ms. Hannemann has performed more than 10,000 hours of volunteer work for the Master Gardeners of Union County, a new record for the organization.

“With more than 10,000 volunteer hours to her credit, Caryl Hannemann exemplifies the spirit of community service at the heart of the Master Gardeners program,” said Freeholder Angel Estrada. “Caryl has shown that by doing something that you love, you can have a positive impact throughout your community.”

The Master Gardeners program is run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, supported in part by the Freeholder Board. The all-volunteer organization is headquartered at the County’s Colleen Frasier Building in Westfield. It maintains an extensive Demonstration Garden on the grounds of the Union County Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside.

“Caryl is an inspiration,” said Freeholder Vernell Wright. “With the help of her guidance, the Master Gardeners are a strong force for good in Union County, through their charitable and educational activities, and by working to make our neighborhoods more healthy and attractive.”

The Wesley Philo Award was named in honor of the group’s first president. It is presented annually to a Master Gardener who exemplifies excellence in volunteerism.

Ms. Hannemann was presented with the award at the Master Gardeners 26th annual Pin Party recognition ceremony earlier this month, where she was joined by Freeholder Estrada, Freeholder Wright, and Master Gardener Coordinator Madeline DiNardo.

She also received a commemorative pillow featuring a hand embroidered replica of the award certificate, made for her by fellow Master Gardener Joan Horn.

Along with their many community improvement projects throughout Union County, the members of the Master Gardeners run a free, year-round garden Helpline. They have donated thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables to local food pantries from the Sharing Garden beds at the Demonstration Garden, they raise funds for horticulture scholarships and other special projects, and they donate bouquets of fresh flowers for cancer patients and their families at Overlook Hospital and the Wellness Community of Central Jersey.

The Demonstration Garden also serves as a platform for community education programs and youth summer camps.

For more information on all Master Gardeners programs and activities, or to find out how to become certified as a Master Gardener, call 908-654-9854 (press “4) or visit the Master Gardeners link

To contact the Master Gardeners Helpline, email or call 908-654-9852.


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