Mercer County Pollinator Garden Receives 2017 Master Gardener State Teamwork Award

The Mercer County Pollinator Garden received a 2017 Master Gardener State Teamwork Award during the State Master Gardener Conference held September 8th in Normal. This award was established to honor projects, which have made a difference in the community or Extension unit. The group of Master Gardeners had to show a focused team approach to a project, innovation and improving an existing project to serve their community better. Mercer County Master Gardeners on the team were Sue Atkinson, Lynn Borg, Mary Pat Rush, and Elaine Wheeler. The Perennial Pollinator Garden, located at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in Aledo is a highly visible garden which was in desperate need of redefinition – a purpose. The plan, to create a representative, educational and visually appealing garden that would include genus specific areas with several species of the same genus represented. With grant funding from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation, they were able to incorporate pollinators, raise community awareness and create educational opportunities.  McDonalds of Aledo provided funding to build a shade structure to allow for the diversity of shade plants. More than a dozen Perennial Plants of the Year™ were incorporated into the species selection. As a Perennial Pollinator Garden, labeling also included identification of plants crucial in the life cycle of a pollinator. The Perennial Pollinator Garden provides educational opportunities for all including 2016 Pollinator Celebration, demonstrations, workshops, and classes. Mercer County Ag in the Classroom visits during the school year and it is a field trip destination for local youth and visitors to the Mercer County Fairgrounds as well.