The mission of the Delaware County Master Gardener Association is to provide environmentally sound, research-based, horticultural education to the residents of Delaware County. There are many ways to do this but three methods make the education person- and needs-specific: answering questions sent to the HelpDesk, replying to questions submitted to the state-wide Ask a Master Gardener program, and providing recommendations to improve one’s soil based on samples submitted for analysis. And one person has worked tirelessly and quietly on all three: John Heinz.
Because of his devotion to the Delaware County Extension Office and Master Gardener Association, John has been named the 2022 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year.
John became a Master Gardener Volunteer in 2007. By 2011, he took charge of reviewing soil analyses and providing detailed advice to homeowners on how to amend their soil to improve their lawns and gardens. On average, John provided recommendations to 45 homeowners per year. John developed and provided training to a new cadre of master gardeners in 2021, who took over this service. In addition, John provided instructions for reviewing soil analyses and providing recommendations that were used by MGVs in the Advanced Master Gardener Soils Specialization program in 2018.
Around 2009, John began providing education to residents through the HelpDesk. Every Monday morning the Extension Office knew it could count on John to appear and answer emails and phone messages, and the occasional walk-in. John researched questions about flowers, trees, grass, bugs, bees, and birds. In some instances, John even made house calls! After the growing season, John was the principal volunteer on the HelpDesk. In his spare time, he developed a filing system for replies and trained many of the new interns. In 2021, John prepared a process to train other master gardeners so they could readily reply to inquiries.
Since 2013, John answered questions submitted to the state-wide Ask a Master Gardener program. John answered these questions, just like those from the HelpDesk, in as short a time as possible - usually within two days. As one would expect, John’s replies were well-researched, informative, and succinct.
Over the years, John was involved in other DCMGA projects, including the i-tree survey, plant sale, and fair gates.
John has been an exemplary model of a Master Gardener Volunteer and is truly deserving of being honored as the 2022 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year. In honor of his contributions, DCMGA will award two $2500 scholarships in John's name to any High School seniors and/or college students going into the field of horticulture.