Meet the new Master Gardener Volunteers

What is a Secrest Master Gardener? We are folks like you, with a passion for plants and gardening and a desire to serve our communities. Our core horticultural training and volunteer work provide us with a framework of plant knowledge, which we build on each year with additional training and volunteering. Our mission is to teach and promote research-based horticultural practices and projects in Wayne County. Want to join us? Find information and an application at under the Master Gardener tab.

Having completed their Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) course requirements and 50 volunteer hours, eight Secrest Arboretum MGV interns are now fully certified as Secrest MGVs. Although they have varied interests and backgrounds, they share a love of gardening and an appreciation of nature’s wonders. Their enthusiasm and knowledge add to the extensive value of Secrest Arboretum.

Susan Heady
Enjoying fragrant flowering perennials, herbs, early Spring bulbs and tulips, Susan Heady designs her yard for continuous bloom and yearlong interest. For her final MGV class project, Susan designed and planted a native herb garden for pollinators and culinary use at her church. A former OARDC researcher and ATI entomology teacher, Susan’s second career was as a counselor/social worker for the Cleveland Clinic Hospital System. Today she enjoys deadheading, outsmarting deer, and traveling with her husband.

Karen Lesiecki
Karen Lesiecki and husband Richard, enjoy traveling and visiting botanical gardens. Her garden interests include starting vegetables and annuals from seed, removing invasive species, and restoring their property with native plants and trees. She has volunteered with the Secrest perennial study and Hydrangea plant trials. Her MGV Class final project concerned Frugal Gardening to minimize inputs and maximize outputs in the garden.

Bridget Painter
MGV Bridget Painter loves “working with soil and experimenting with different growing mediums and methods for improving soil.” Her gardens are filled with native and pollinator plants to attract and sustain insects, birds, and wildlife. Some of her volunteer activities include working at the Friends of Secrest plant sales, working in the Secrest gardens, and Get Garden Answers. Bridget’s final MGV Class project demonstrated no-till garden applications for the home garden.

Sandi Rowsey
Houseplant enthusiast Sandi Rowsey and Tim, her husband of forty-two years, share their home with 100 beautiful houseplants. In addition, she maintains the plants in The Serenity Room of her church. She volunteered on the Secrest Echinacea plant trials and has designed and created perennial beds for her church parsonage. Her class project explored incorporating raised bed gardens in the home landscape.

Jeannine Snyder
MGV Jeannine Snyder’s gardening interests include edible flowers, pollinator favorites, and any daisy-like shaped flower. Describing herself as tactile, she states, “I love mulching! I love the smell and texture of mulch as well as the gratification of how nice it looks so quickly.” She volunteers at Secrest on Tuesdays and at the Farmer’s Market. An “accidental gardener,” she became an MGV to gain more knowledge. She is an animal lover and experienced chef.

Dave Stilwell
Although all aspects of gardening interest MGV Dave Stilwell, he especially enjoys standing in the garden on a hot summer day eating fresh produce. He focuses on vegetable gardening in small spaces, native perennial flowers, and the effect that climate change is beginning to have in our
region. Dave collected data for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Studies (CFAES). For his class presentation he researched the effects of “jumping worms” on gardens and forests and how to mitigate their effects.

Luke Tegtmeier
Luke Tegtmeier is a fulltime employee at the Schantz Organ Company where his primary duty is maintaining pipe organs all over Ohio and surrounding states. In addition, he serves as a church organist. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking in the woods and growing vegetables and berries. He has been an MGV volunteer at the Wayne County Fairgrounds and enjoyed his final project, which involved researching the history of vegetables. Part of the plant history quiz he created for this project appeared in a previous Secrest newsletter.

Jane Todd
MGV Jane Todd, a USDA retiree, worked as an entomologist in a plant virology lab. She transitioned to a full-time beekeeper on her family’s 40-acre farm, most of which is now in a Conservation Reserve Program designed to benefit pollinators. She enjoys propagating plants to replace lawn. Jane participates in many Secrest Arboretum activities: scoring Echinacea, weekly weeding, and helping with plant sales. Her final project involved converting an old hog pasture lot into a wooded meadow for bee keeping. In this ongoing project, she has transplanted saplings and developed a weed management strategy.

Heady Lesiecki Painter Rowsey
Snyder Stillwell Tegtmeier Todd