Since its beginnings in 1988, Rotary Botanical Garden (RBG) has relied on the services of literally hundreds of volunteers to help with the day to day chores of maintaining the internationally recognized 20-acre botanical garden. Volunteers plant, prune, weed, water and care for the hundreds of varieties of plants on the grounds at RBG. They teach educational classes for adults and children. In addition, they build hardscaping to decorate the gardens and spend hours stringing lights for the Holiday Light show. Volunteers are the heart of the staff at RBG. Without them RBG would not be able to maintain its quality of excellence.
Of those volunteers dozens - more than half - are current or former Master Gardener Volunteers. Many of those volunteers are members of the Rock Prairie Master Gardener Association, the 42nd organization of its kind in Wisconsin. All Wisconsin MGVs are educated by horticulture educators who work for the University of Wisconsin Extension (UWEX).
Rotary's relationship with the UWEX and the MGVs began when Rock County UWEX Horticulture Educator and Agricultural Agent Dennis Nehring (with the help of RBG staff Julie Budrow (1998-2000) and Kelli Stacionis (2000-2003)) began Rock County's Master Gardener Program subsequent to encouragement from RBG. In those early days, the program graduated about 30 certified MGVs each year. Through an agreement with RBG students and graduates alike worked as volunteers at the gardens to earn 100% of the 40 volunteer hours required to either acquire or maintain their certification. Today MGVs are only required to earn 24 volunteer hours per year. Many MGVs still choose to volunteer at the gardens not just to earn their volunteer hours, but because of their love for and loyalty to the gardens. Following Nehring's retirement in 2002, Mike Maddox became half time horticulture educator for the UWEX and half time horticulture educator for RBG. After Mike's departure in 2011 to take on the duties of State Master Gardener Coordinator, Christy Marsden came on as horticulture educator in 2013, a position she holds to this day.
To celebrate our years of involvement in the beauty that is Rotary Botanical Gardens the RPMGA has donated two Adirondack chairs to the gardens. Each has a small plaque on the back that reads "In appreciation of Rock Prairie Master Gardener Volunteers."
The chairs are currently placed in the Reception Garden with six others of the same color. Each of these lovely wooden chairs provides a comfortable place where visitors can stop for a moment and rest while they enjoy the beauty of the gardens.