Nonprofit Profile

Gardeners add beauty and knowledge to area

Carol Wagner, Leader Correspondent

Photo by Carol Wagner JoAnn Radeske, left, is the president of the Wolf River Master Gardeners, and Pat Gwidt is a member of the board. They are at Radeske’s home on Shawano Lake.

Since 2008, the Wolf River Master Gardeners have added beauty and flavor to Shawano and Menominee counties.

Pat Gwidt, a member of the board, has been a master gardener since 2008 when the group started here. She said there were 19 members then; there are 25 now.

“They can represent Wolf River Master Gardeners at all of the events we sponsor,” Gwidt said.

The gardeners provide education and information on horticulture and environmental stewardship, which supplements the efforts of the University of Wisconsin-Extension program.

“It’s more about knowledge that we share,” President JoAnn Radeske said.

Jamie Patton, UW-Extension agricultural agent for Shawano County, is the adviser for the gardeners and helps them with major decisions.

“She makes us aware of the things we can do to help,” said Radeske, who has been a master gardener for three years. “I have a passion for flower and vegetable gardening, and I like to share that information with others.”

The gardeners have a booth at the Shawano Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

“People can ask anything they like,” Gwidt said.

Radeske said the master gardeners don’t know everything, but they can find the answers.

Both women said they shop locally for their items, saying the nicest plants are available right here.

“I’m constantly looking for containers,” Radeske said. “I like things that my relatives have used.”

To become a master gardener requires 36 hours of training and an open-book test. The 12-week course is held at the courthouse. The requirements to continue to be a master gardener each year are 24 hours of volunteer time and 10 hours of continuing education, which includes seminars and programs at the meetings.

Members pay dues of $20 per year, with $5 going to the state and $15 to the club. The membership fluctuates depending if the members get their yearly certification, but if they don’t they can still participate.

The gardeners’ influence can be found at Safe Haven, Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce, Huckleberry Harbor, the Huber garden, Heritage Park and Zion Community Gardens. They have volunteered their help at the Community Dinner and the Shawano County Fair.

“I just love gardening and the educational part,” Gwidt said. “I enjoy seeing the young gardeners that are enthusiastic about vegetables and perennials.”

Meetings and educational programs are held at 6 p.m. on the fourth Monday of the month, usually at Qualheim’s True Value and occasionally on a location.

“Anyone is welcome to attend to find out what it’s all about,” Gwidt said.

Other officers are Kathy Conto, vice president, Laura Ovans, secretary, Jamie Cook, treasurer, Lorin Preston, board member, and Renee Elertson, WIMGA representative.

For information, call the UW-Extension office at 715-526-6136.