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Volunteer Spotlight – Denis Derylo

Colorado Master Gardener℠ (CMG) volunteers are a dedicated group of individuals who are knowledgeable and passionate about sharing gardening, landscape and horticulture education. This month we are highlighting Denis Derylo.

“I enrolled in the Master Gardener program in 2002. Growing up in a suburb of Chicago where everyone grew vegetables in their yards, I fell in love with growing tomatoes. After moving to Colorado, I found the growing conditions here were entirely different—the soil, the lack of humidity and moisture (what was a sprinkler system? We had rain back there). I had no intention of staying with the program. I thought just taking the classes for the year would suffice, but then I was hooked with a further desire to learn more.

My favorite activity has been volunteering at the Hudson Gardens Vegetable Demonstration Garden under the tutelage of (former CMG Mentor) Don Stang. Volunteering there showed me that besides tomatoes, other veggies, even unfamiliar ones, could flourish in Colorado. Another benefit was talking with the visitors, both young and old, that had no idea what to do with their yard other than to mow the lawn.

One of the unknown factors of the Master Gardener program is the help the CMG volunteers give to the community, whether it is the donations of produce or helping individuals solve problems that may have occurred in their yards and gardens.

What turned out to only joining selfishly to take the classes and move on, has turned into almost 20 years of joy, camaraderie and learning. Everything from identifying a fruiting bush for a client, who weeks later, brought me a jar of jam that she produced from that bush, to the time a client called in whispering, “There is a large bug on the woodpile next to my house, what should I do?” I replied, “If it is moving, you should immediately lock the door!” After putting her at ease, we identified the critter and discussed what practices could solve the problem. These are just a few of the reasons that I am very glad I stayed after the first year. HAVE FUN DOING WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO DO OR IT’S NOT WORTH DOING!

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