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Two Green Thumbs Up For Gardening Masters At Wyckoff Graduation

Sal Lagattuta receives his certificates for graduating from the Master Gardeners of Bergen County program.
Sal Lagattuta receives his certificates for graduating from the Master Gardeners of Bergen County program. Photo Credit: Joshua Jongsma
Bergen County Freeholder Maura DeNicola, surrounded by greenery, speaks to the crowd at the graduation ceremony for the Master Gardeners of Bergen County in Wyckoff.
Bergen County Freeholder Maura DeNicola, surrounded by greenery, speaks to the crowd at the graduation ceremony for the Master Gardeners of Bergen County in Wyckoff. Photo Credit: Joshua Jongsma
Guests head to the food line after the ceremony.
Guests head to the food line after the ceremony. Photo Credit: Joshua Jongsma

WYCKOFF, N.J. — Bergen County residents with the greenest of thumbs became the latest "master gardeners" at a graduation ceremony in Wyckoff.

About 20 people made up the class of 2015 for the Master Gardeners of Bergen County, a group run by Rutgers University.

Each graduate completed 100 hours of community service to join the nearly 30-year-old club.

The master gardeners come from throughout the county and work with homeowners, towns and parks to provide environmental help. They provide a unique service, said Joel Flagler, a Rutgers professor and master of ceremonies at Saturday's graduation.

"It's fantastic," Flagler told Daily Voice. "They give and they give and it is a culture of donating your skills and services for the greater good. It's a wonderful thing."

This year's graduates included Karen Becker, Christine Belli, Pat Blaszko, Beverly Dempewolf, Pauline Dubois, Tony George, Jean Gruja, Sal Lagattuta, Anne Lander, Tammy Laverty, Lenore Liebeskind, Jean Llewellyn, Bill Loughlin, Christine Mueller Joe Papa, Sandi Ross, Amy Schmidt, Pari Sharif, Mary Tierney, Janet Troy, Deb Walker and Bonnie Weller.

Gruja said she had a fun time and always wanted to learn about gardening.

"They're very knowledegable," Gruja said of her peers. "They were open to all questions, too, so you never felt you weren't going to get all your answers."

Bergen County Freeholder Maura DeNicola congratulated the graduates. In a world with so much tragedy, she said, it's important to acknowledge good work.

"You go outside and you see how beautiful nature is, that the world is still there," DeNicola said. "That's what [the master gardeners] do. You bring that to us in so many ways."

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