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Illinois Master Gardener to Host Open House

Event at Knoxville and War Memorial Garden, Sunday, July 11

An upcoming open house at a local garden could shed some light on the need for more volunteers and community involvement in Peoria. Local University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Polly Wagner has been partnering with Peoria Public Works for four years. Her volunteer work involves tending the flower bed at the corner of Knoxville Avenue and War Memorial Drive.

Over 12 seasons of spring, summer, and fall – Wagner has cared for thousands of plants and has committed herself to the daily task of weeding the space. The impact she has made has had a rippling effect throughout the community, but it has also made a dent in the workload at Public Works.

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“Polly is someone we’ve come to really value and depend on,” said Sie Maroon, Deputy Director of Operations. “She puts in the necessary time and effort to beautify the space. With limited resources, we can’t be everywhere all the time, so we really appreciate her work.”

As part of their certification, Illinois Master Gardeners are required to reach 30 volunteer hours and complete 10 hours of education each year. Wagner’s garden project and other volunteer efforts puts her well over 100 volunteer hours annually – something she takes a lot of pride in.
“Being from Peoria, I would drive by this area and think something needs to be done here,” said Wagner. “Knowing I can help my City and community is what motivates me.”

And when it comes to who is invited to the open house, Wagner says the more the merrier. Members of the public are welcome to walk the paths on Sunday, July 11 from 1-2 p.m.

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“It’s just beautiful here, I love to show it off. It’s completely my passion,” said Wagner. “I see beauty in everything. It’s all God’s miracle.”

The City is always looking for volunteers to take on projects similar to the Knoxville Avenue and War Memorial Drive garden. If you or someone you know would like to hear about such opportunities, email publicworks@peoriagov.org.

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