For immediate release - September 22, 2005
TAVARES — Lake County Extension Agent Charles Fedunak was honored last week with the Master Gardener Distinguished Extension Professional and Enhancement Award from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Services (IFAS) Extension.
The award was announced at the 2005 Extension Professional Associations of Florida Professional Improvement and Administrative Conference held in Sarasota.
“This is kind of special because it is actually selected by the master gardeners throughout the state,” Fedunak said. “It’s like your peers are recognizing you for your outstanding service.”
An 11-year employee of the Lake County Agricultural Center, Fedunak is an extension agent with the University of Florida, coordinator of the Master Gardener Program in the County and manager of the Horticultural Learning Center. With his wide assortment of honors in the past year, there’s little wonder why the estimated 1,200 master gardeners in the state chose Fedunak for the statewide award.
Fedunak’s idea for a “Mobile Plant Clinic” has garnered multiple decorations including international honors and an achievement award from the National Association of Counties. The clinic provides important educational materials to citizens about horticultural and other services provided by various Lake County departments. Originally started several years ago when a grant helped purchase the trailer, the activities of the mobile clinic have steadily increased. Beginning in October, the clinic can be found each Thursday at the Lake County Farmers’ Market held at the Lake County Expo Center and Fairgrounds, 2101 County Road 452, Eustis.
“We take it to different places like home and garden shows, festivals and events, and we set it up so people can come to us and ask questions,” Fedunak said. “We have volunteers that man it — trained master gardeners — and what they do is provide information to citizens on what’s wrong with their plants. Basically it’s there to give them information.”
Another program established by Fedunak that recently was recognized is the children’s program at the Horticultural Learning Center, 30205 State Road 19, Tavares. Within the next month, about 700 Lake County students will visit the Center to learn about a variety of subjects including reptiles, insects and hydroponics.
“The garden is something that started from scratch, we just had an empty field out there,” he said. “I did the design work and worked on the installation of the gardens. It’s sort of been my pet project building it the last 10 years.”
As part of his award from the University of Florida IFAS Extension, Fedunak will receive a personal bonus and $1,500 will be sent to the Master Gardener Program in Lake County.
“It will allow us to add some reference books and materials to the plant clinic and some of it will probably go into program development for the children’s program,” he said.
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