Rath Recognized For 35 Years As Pine County Master Gardener

Friday, January 18th, 2013 at 7:57 am

Story, pictures submitted by Terry Salmela

Ray Rath of Bruno was recognized for his 35 years of volunteer service as a Pine County Extension Master Gardener at the Pine County Master Gardener Awards Night and dinner held at the Audubon Center of the Northwoods near Sandstone on January 15th.

Rath was one of the original volunteer master gardeners trained at the first master gardener training course in Minnesota in the 1970s. Ray served as a Washington County Master Gardener for three years before taking a six year leave to sail with his family some 30,000 miles. They visited ports of call from Florida to the Mediterranean and to Norway. After returning to the U.S. he retook the master gardener core course in 1985 and has been active ever since. He is the only original University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener who is still active in the state today.

Ray feels that the greatest benefit of being a master gardener has been what he has learned by helping people to find answers to their gardening and horticulture questions. “It has been a pleasure to meet so many people, make new friends and to help people to help themselves,” said Ray.

Rath was one of 34 Pine County Master Gardeners honored that evening. In 2012 Pine County Master Gardeners volunteered 2647 hours and attended 431 hours of educational training. Paul Olesen, Askov was presented with his 10 year certificate and pin. 2013 officers will be president – Barb Videen, Pine City; vice president; Tara Prachar, Sturgeon Lake; secretary – Kara Nelson, Askov; and treasurer – Tom Rolf, Pine City.

2012 Pine County Master Gardener projects have included the following: hosting 232 people at their March Horticulture Day; managing the Pine City Community Garden; developing a “Grow a Healthy Handful” five most nutritious vegetable display for the community garden and their Pine County Fair Booth; conducting an after school Junior Master Gardener training; co-sponsoring two “Basics of Home Canning” Workshops; answering gardening questions; writing “Yard and Garden Thymes” newspaper columns and other activities.

For 2013 the master gardeners are planning the 11th Annual Pine County Master Gardener Horticulture Day on Saturday, March 23rd from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Pine City High School. They are also planning two “Fruit and Vegetable Freezing” Workshops from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Tues. June 18th at Pine City High School and Wed. June 19th at East Central High School.

Pine County Extension Master Gardeners pictured above are front L to R: Alyce Lere, Master Gardener Emeritus and Barb Videen, Pine City and Ray Rath, Bruno. Back L to R: Peggy Nordrum, Pine City; Terry Salmela, Coordinator; Charles Mans, Hinckley; Jan McLearen, Pine City; Tara Prachar, Sturgeon Lake; Kara Nelson, Askov; Jennifer Eaves, Hinckley; Cheryl McHugh, Pine City; Kim Metz, Rush City; Clarissa Ellis-Prudhomme, Sandstone; Christie Domagall, Darlene Collins, Tom Rolf and Cindy Novy, Pine City; Sandra Johnson, Finlayson; Paul Olesen, Askov; Lyn Johnson and Paul Johnson, Pine City.


  1. Jackie Froemming 01/30/13 at 12:48pm

    I would like to point out that the statement…”He is the only original University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener who is still active in the state today”…..is incorrect since I know of at least one more Master Gardener from the original class that is still active….her name is Dorothy Johnson. Dorothy is now a Crow Wing County Master Gardener but originally was a Master Gardener in Dakota County. Our local newspaper – the Brainerd Dispatch – had an article about Dorothy last year.

    Jackie Froemming
    Extension Educator & MG Coordinator

  2. Dorothy Johnson 01/30/13 at 8:22pm

    Greetings to the Pine County group – and especially to Ray Rath. We were in the same class. And I do remember you deciding to make a long sailing trip, and that you were required to take the beginner class when you wished to re-enroll in the MG program. Best wishes to you!

    I hung in there with the program through thick and thin in Dakota County until 1999;then moved to Nisswa and got involved with landscaping at the new city-owned cemetery in Breezy Point. I’m still involved there in the summertime.

    We live in Naples, FL, in the winter and are at Nisswa from May through October.

    Ray, I’d be happy to hear from you. I have a couple of photos of the 3 -35 year MGs who attended the state conference this summer, and will be happy to pass on to you.

    Best wishes, Dorothy Johnson

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