Master Gardener volunteers awarded for helping grow program opportunities

Two volunteers and one WSU faculty member were awarded for their service with WSU Extension’s Master Gardener Program on Friday, October 1 by the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington state.

Master Gardener volunteers stand before a table with two vases of colorful flowers.
Master Gardener volunteers Jim Kropf and C-J Nielson were recognized at the WSU Extension Pierce County Master Gardener demonstration garden on the campus of the Puyallup Research and Extension Center.

Island County resident C-J Nielsen was recognized as the 2021 Master Gardener of the year for her commitment and leadership to the program. Nielson served as Island County Foundation President, Whidbey Gardening Workshop Chair, and State Foundation Conference Director.

Susan Inlow-Romine of Benton-Franklin Counties earned the Media Award for 2021 for her early commitment to help grow and support the Master Garden Program across the region, and her success at maintaining a Master Gardener program presence on TV, radio, and print publications.

For his statewide impact on the Master Gardener program spanning over four decades, Jim Kropf was awarded the Ed LaCrosse Distinguished Service Award for 2021. Kropf has created and maintained Master Gardener training materials that form core elements of the Master Gardener curriculum, and has served in multiple leadership positions within Extension.

“C-J, Susan, and Jim epitomize the values of our WSU Extension Master Gardener Program and are well deserving of the recognition bestowed,” said Jennifer Marquis, WSU Extension Master Gardener Program Leader. “As representatives of nearly 4500 volunteers, these three characterize the amazing volunteers who have chosen to serve our mission.  Thank you, Susan and C-J, for giving your time and for sharing your many talents. And thank you, Jim, for believing in power of volunteers to do great things.”

A woman in a pink shirt and sunglasses smiles at the camera in front of a green bush with pink roses.
Susan Inlow-Romine at the WSU Extension Benton/Franklin County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden.

The awards were presented virtually to an audience of over 400 by Don Enstrom, President of the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State.

“The WSU Extension Master Gardener Program to this day remains dependent on the hard work of thousands of dedicated Master Gardener Volunteers delivering education and support to home gardeners across our state,” said Enstrom. “The breadth and depth of their selfless contributions inspire us all.”

Founded in 1972 by horticultural Extension agent David Gibby, the Master Gardener program began with a team of trained volunteers passionate about gardening. Projects like establishing public demonstration gardens, providing sensory gardens, and helping with community planting are just a few examples of the projects implemented over decades to assist with horticulture education throughout Washington. Today, Master Gardener programs exist in all 50 states and the District of Colombia, several Canadian provinces, and South Korea.

To learn more about projects and volunteer opportunities with WSU Extension’s Master Garden Program, visit the Master Gardener website.