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Archives for March 15, 2015

Volunteer opportunities in SW Florida – The News

If you are looking for ways to volunteer, here are a few ideas:

Volunteer at ACT. Abuse, Counseling and Treatment needs help with its on-call rape crisis team. Training will be provided and when training is complete, you will be a certified advocate in Florida. The group is also looking for help in its Second ACT Thrift Store. Call 939-2553 or

Chaperone a puppy. The Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida has started a new lobby “greeter animal” program. The benefits of greeter animals are immediate — when a child enters the lobby, the presence of an animal can put a smile on a child’s face and help them be more at ease as they wait for their appointments. It has partnered with the Gulf Coast Humane Society to supply these adorable puppies and now are in need are some volunteers to chaperone these animals. Contact Karen Fordiani at 939-2808 or email her at

Mentor parents. United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Volunteer Center has recently launched a new Family Mentor Program and is partnering with the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida to recruit volunteer mentors who will be trained and matched with parents who have been involved in the child welfare system and are ready to be re-unified with their children. An ideal mentor will be one who can be non-judgmental, offer a minimum of an hour a week to work together with the parent(s), to offer a caring and supportive relationship to reduce the feelings of isolation. They will assist parents in the basic parenting education, knowledge and skills by teaching, coaching and modeling. To register to become a mentor or request additional information contact Patrice Cunningham at or 433-2000 ext. 272. Future training classes will be announced and posted at

Buy a paver stone. Paving stones are available for the public to purchase for the Burroughs Home’s “Walk of Friendship” before the grand opening of the all-weather pavilion, which is being constructed on the grounds. The stones will comprise the walkway into the pavilion. The stones can honor or memorialize an individual, organization or company and leave their mark on history. The pavilion will be a one-of-a-kind space in the River District for events, meetings, character education classes, and cultural events. The cost of one engraved paver stone is $300 or two for $500. All funds raised will go toward character and ethics education programs in the new pavilion being built on the grounds of the Burroughs Home. Email Angela Melvin at or call 337-9503 for information about securing an engraved stone order form.

Be a role model. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast launched the 100 Men in 100 Days Campaign, in hopes to match the more than 200 boys in the program with a male role model. 88 men from across the 10-county footprint have signed on to become a Big Brother, but the group is seeking 12 more to go to reach their goal of 100. Currently, 52 percent of the youth they serve in their program are boys and 39 percent of the volunteers are men. Having the positive influence of a Big Brother makes a real difference in a boy’s life. For information, call 855-501-2447, or email

Represent a child. Guardian ad Litem program is in need of volunteers age 21 and older who are Florida residents. Represent abused, abandoned or neglected children in the child welfare system and the community. An application is available on the website. A training course and a criminal background check screening are required. Volunteering is done on volunteer’s own personal schedule, other than court dates, which are set far in advance. Call 533-1441 for details.

Be a senior companion. The Senior Companion Program provides volunteer opportunities to seniors 55 years or older to offer companionship and friendship to frail elderly individual who are homebound and generally living alone. These volunteers serve 20 hours each week and receive a small non-taxable stipend, of $2.65 per hr. and .40 a mile for travel, on-duty insurance, as well as annual health screening. Call the Dr. Piper Center at 332-5346 ask for Jonah or Lourdes.

Help with a race. The Bonita Springs YMCA seeks volunteers for the third annual Gruesome Twosome. Course set up will take place on March 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The race will be held on March 21 with volunteers needed from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. We use a number of our volunteers to monitor the obstacles, race check in and water stations. If you are interested in participating or volunteering, contact Marla at .

Be a tour guide at Lakes Park. The Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation is looking for tour guides for the E.Z. Rider program in Lakes Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, in south Fort Myers. Volunteers are needed to be driver/guides to tour guests through the park on 1-1.5-hour tours by golf cart. Volunteers will receive training on golf cart operation and provided with individualized training and a complete informational manual. Openings are available for both permanent positions or as substitutes. Driver/guides will need to be approved as Lee County Parks Recreation volunteers. Contact Paul Dover at or 533-7575, ext. 5 for more information on volunteering.

Help out with furry friends. The Animal Refuge Center needs kind, caring, motivated volunteers. ARC is a no-kill nonprofit animal shelter in North Fort Myers that houses between 400 and 500 cats and dogs at any given time. Volunteers are able to interact with the animals by walking dogs; helping out with basic cat care including feeding, watering, scooping boxes and cleaning up cat houses; or simply socializing with the animals and giving them treats and love. Other ways to help on-site would be maintenance and landscaping and helping out in our office with answering and returning phone calls and greeting visitors/potential adopters. It also attends and hosts various events throughout the year and is in need of volunteers to help with transporting animals and talking to the public about ARC. Those interested in joining the volunteer team should visit the website at and fill out an application under the Get Involved tab. Contact Tina Hager, volunteer coordinator, with any additional questions at or 258-1278.

Assist at Hope Healthcare. RSVP of Lee County needs volunteers ages 55 and over for Hope Healthcare Services. Its mission is to provide exceptional care and support to every individual and their loved ones as they fulfill life’s journey. They provide Hospice, palliative care support and frail elderly case management to residents of nine counties including Lee. Volunteer opportunities include assisting patients, their families, assisting in the office and at special events, and at Hope Chest (their resale shop). Volunteers are trained for their positions. No experience is necessary. For information, call Bob Sheehan at 239-489-9188.

Donate to memorial. The renewed drive to finish the Freedom Memorial is stepping up its community outreach. The Freedom Memorial is on Golden Gate Parkway at Fred W. Coyle Freedom Park, near Goodlette-Frank Road. The monument will pay tribute to military veterans and first responders such as policemen and firefighters. The campaign seeks to raise about $1.2 million for granite and other materials for the U.S. flag-shaped memorial. The labor, like all other parts of the revival, is being donated. To make tax-deductible donations, go to The website also offers forms to download to buy inscribed bricks for $100 or $300. Purchasers can write their own tributes that will become permanent parts of the Freedom Memorial. For information about the Freedom Memorial, call Jeff Lytle at 285-4349 or Jerry Sanford at 596-7959.

Build a home. Habitat for Humanity wants to place 55 families in new and/or rehabbed homes in Lee and Hendry counties. Help is needed to build homes, rehab homes, work in the warehouse building walls and in the paint shop painting doors and trim. The ReStores (thrift stores) are also looking for help with merchandising, sorting donations and on trucks picking up donations. Contact Paula Schenz at 652-1684 or email her at

Assist with driving. Senior volunteers are needed to transport the elderly who need a ride to the doctor, dentist, pharmacy, dialysis or other treatments. Volunteers drive clients when it fits in with their schedules, and are located in same ZIP code. Call Leslie Jander at 332-5346 at Faith in Action/Dr. Piper Center for Social Services Inc.

Donate a golf cart battery. Gently used batteries needed for Animal Refuge Center’s golf carts. ARC has 23 acres of land and is able to provide care for around 500 animals at any given time on the property. They use golf carts to help with transporting food, heavy boxes of meds and other large items across property. Of the 12 batteries it has, nine of them have gone bad and they are reaching out to the community for donations of gently used golf cart batteries, Powertron P2000 Deep Cycle 6 volt batteries. If you are able to contribute batteries, please email

Help out United Way of Collier County for agency review panels. The United Way of Collier County is looking for members of the community to volunteer as panelists for reviewing agency funding. Panelists review agency applications, meet with agency leadership and perform site visits to see first-hand the types of services performed by these organizations. Teams of panelists are assembled and begin their work in February, concluding with recommendations made in early May. Panelists can expect to dedicate roughly 8-10 hours of their time over this period. For information, email Jim Warnken or Robyn Quataert or call us at 261-7112.

Volunteer time with Special Equestrians. Special Equestrians in Fort Myers provides therapeutic horseback riding classes and equine assisted activities to individuals with disabilities in our community. The minimum age is 14 years old. One of the ways to help is working in classes as a side walker (walking beside the rider to help them with support and verbal cues). In addition to side walkers, they also need horse leaders for each of the riders in the class. Horse leaders need prior horse experience and must receive additional training at Special Equestrians. Other volunteer needs include grooming and tacking up the horses or helping maintain the stable area. They also have office work, grounds maintenance, fund raising and special events for those who do not want to work directly with the horses. Contact volunteer coordinator Priscilla Kovalsky at 248-4135.

Donate clothing to homeless. Lauren Baugh is collecting donations of needed items for the homeless population in our area, in an effort to make a difference in their lives. Baugh created “Shoes, Socks, Shirts and Smiles” with the goal of passing out shoes, socks, shirts and smiles to those in need. She is collecting the items and donating them to Community Cooperative. Items needed for men, women and children include jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts, socks, shoes, gloves, hats, scarves, blankets and other cold-weather clothing. Monetary donations also are being accepted. Donations can be dropped at the following collection places: In downtown Fort Myers at Browtopia, 1415 Dean St., Suite 203; The Historic Dean Building Residential and Commercial Suites, 1415 Dean St.; First United Methodist Preschool, 2246 First St.; and Blue Dahlia Salon, 1414 Bayview Court. Other locations are Offerman Automotive at 1921 Courtney Drive in Fort Myers and David Schuman Insurance Inc. at 1329 Hibiscus Drive in Cape Coral. On Jan. 17, all collected items will be delivered to Community Cooperative. Items will be sorted and then distributed to homeless people in Lee County. For information, call Lauren Baugh at 834-1051, or email

Donate birthday toys and goody bags. The Community Youth Chorus takes a birthday party once a month to the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter to celebrate the birthdays of the kids living at the shelter. Their supplies are running low and are in need of toys for the birthday kids (all ages) and small goodies for our goody bags. For information, contact Debby Dorr at 561-9737, or visit

Join Cultural Park family. People who have a love for the arts and who share a commitment to excellent customer service, diversity of programming and teamwork will find Cultural Park Theatre Performing Arts Center a rewarding place to volunteer. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to stop in during business hours and fill out a volunteer form. Contact Michael Moran at 772-5862, email or visit

Help out music program. Volunteer with Gulf Coast Symphony. You can volunteer as few as two to three times each year, or as often as a few times a week. Volunteer activities range from stuffing envelopes, answering phones and database entry, to assisting with symphony special events. For information, contact us at 277-1700 or email

Donate to food bank. The Salvation Army of Collier County is in need of donated canned food and non-perishables to stock their near-empty food pantry in preparation for the upcoming season. In an effort to fill the food pantry, it is requesting any donations be dropped off at its Administrative Annex, 3050 Horseshoe Drive North, Building B, Suite #260, in Naples. For information, visit

Become a literacy buddy. Early Learning Coalition of Southwest Florida is seeking volunteers for its 2014-15 Literacy Buddies Program. Volunteers, called literacy buddies, agree to receive letters and book requests from a child in an early learning facility served by the Early Learning Coalition. The buddy will in turn respond by sending the child a letter and a book. The children learn literacy skills through correspondence and develop an appreciation of reading. These exchanges take place three times. For information, visit the group’s Facebook page, or website, or email

Donate yard tools. The Animal Refuge Center has teamed up with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to get some extra hands in clearing out dry, dead, and overgrown foliage on and around the shelter. They are asking for community donations of the following items: machetes, six-foot ladders, hand saws, pole saws, chain saws, a chipper, a trailer/area to dump yard waste, and any other gently used lawn equipment or modes of disposal for yard waste. If you have gently used items you’d like to donate or are able to help with clean-up, contact Tina at

Be a tour guide at Burroughs Home. The Burroughs Home, located in the River District at 2505 First St., Fort Myers, is looking for tour guides. Volunteers are needed to guide tourists through the home and gardens. Openings are available for both permanent positions and substitutes. Tour guides are provided with a thorough history of the home and the family who lived in it, and given a complete informational manual and individual training. Additional volunteer opportunities are available at the Burroughs Home. They include clerical work, special events, and tasks behind the scenes. Individuals with all kinds of interests are welcome, especially those who enjoy meeting new people and with an interest in history and historic preservation. Call Angela Melvin, 337-9503, for information about becoming a volunteer.

Drop off used cell phones. Preferred Travel of Naples has been designated as an official cell phone recycling drop-off point to benefit The Shelter for Abused Women Children. Recycled cell phones can be lifesavers for children and adults living in fear of abuse by providing vital access to police and ambulance services. Most of the donated cell phones will be given to at risk individuals. A designated recycling company will properly recycle remaining phones, and a cash donation for each phone will be made to the shelter. Cell phones can be dropped off at the Preferred Travel of Naples offices located on the third floor of the Sun Trust building in Naples at 801 Laurel Oak Drive. For information, call 261-1177, toll free 800-523-3716 or visit

Donate clothes or volunteer time. The Clothes Closet is a community outreach ministry located at Faith United Methodist Church at 15690 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers. It is in partnership with more than 90 social service agencies in Lee County and through their referrals it gives free clothing and accessories to those in need in Lee County. Committed volunteers are needed for greeting, checking in, and assisting people and families as they shop for clothing. There is a special need for people who can help translate Spanish and Creole. For information, call 482-2030

Make food donation pickups. Interfaith Charities of South Lee, a food pantry in San Carlos Park, needs volunteers to make food donation pickups Saturday mornings at Costco Gulf Coast Town Center in San Carlos Park and Wednesday and Thursday mornings at Winn-Dixie Coconut Point in Estero. They also need front desk client intake volunteers Monday through Friday from 8-11 a.m. and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon. Call Brenda Adams at 267-3510

Lead a Girl Scout troop. Girl Scouts is a volunteer-led organization and is in need of new troop leaders and co-leaders for the upcoming school year. Girl Scout volunteers need to complete a volunteer application, criminal background check and complete proper training. Leaders and co-leaders have the opportunity to create a flexible schedule that works for them. Training, curriculum and support are provided. For information, visit or contact Yvonne Bras, director of membership, at 232-4475.

Gather donations for troops. American Legion Auxiliary Unit 274 sends care packages overseas to our troops. The group is asking for a donation from a corporate sponsor to continue shipping the care packages. To help, Visit or send checks to ALA Unit 274, P.O. Box 07526, Fort Myers, FL 33919. Call Sue Eaton at 466-6256 with any questions.

Donate a life jacket. The Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Drive is collecting donations from the public and local businesses of new and slightly used life jackets, which will be put into service on area Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner stands. All used life jackets donated must be in serviceable condition with no rips, tears, broken buckles or missing straps. Please drop off any donations you may have to the Sea Tow Fort Myers office at 3725-A Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral. For information, call Heather O’Brien at 945-4820 or email

Volunteer time for MADD Mothers Against Drunk Driving is seeking volunteers in Southwest Florida for monthly court-ordered Victim Impact Panels in Lee and Collier counties. Drunk driving crash victims or their families are needed to share their experience, and volunteers are needed for the panels’ administrative duties. The group is also looking for individuals interested in serving on the steering committee for the second annual Drive the Lane Celebrity Basketball Game. This family-friendly event is focused on the prevention of underage drinking. This event features sports celebrities and local heroes playing a friendly, yet competitive game of hoops, supporting the message of prevention and celebrating our youth making good choices. For information, contact Lori Burke at 791-7560 or

Foster a wolf dog The Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education Experience Center in Naples is in need of foster families to care for abused, abandoned and neglected animals in Southwest Florida. Shy Wolf volunteers arrange a home visit with potential foster families to check references, assess the home’s fencing or containment and help train the caretakers. Animals that are available for foster care are matched with appropriate families. For more information, visit or call 455-1698.

Be a food pantry assistant for the Salvation Army. Volunteers walk them through the food pantry, provide information on other programs, and assist with computer applications through the ACCESS system. They also need Food Service Assistants to assist in the preparation of food items that will be served for meals, to assist with receiving food deliveries and putting away stock, and help with clean up. The food pantry is open five days a week and the kitchen is open seven days a week. For more information, call Kris Volpone at 278-1551.

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Tips to get the most out of nature

At Mohonk Preserve, people and nature thrive in a setting with more than 8,000 acres of mountain ridges, forests, fields, streams, ponds and other unique natural features. Here, 165,000 visitors each year enjoy world-class scenery while they hike, run, mountain bike, horseback ride, rock climb and cross-country ski.

The preserve’s programs in environmental education, conservation science, land stewardship and land protection make this a special place where people can really get into nature and reap the benefits of time spent outdoors.

With spring just around the corner, here are 15 ways that families, schools and communities can make the most of nature.

For young children, the most seemingly insignificant things are awesome. Finding a cricket, an acorn or a colored leaf becomes a magical event. All it takes is to step outside your door and explore.

Plan a playdate at a nearby nature center or park. Let the kids discover what live under rocks, logs or up in the trees. Build a fort. No equipment necessary.

You plan your family’s sports commitments, three-day weekends and vacations in advance, so why not plan a nature-based outing? Spend next weekend on a family hike at a park you haven’t yet visited. Block out time now and you’ll feel better later.

Have children in organized sports? Talk to their coaches about holding that end-of-the-season pizza party at the local park, where kids and their families can move around, get some fresh air and take in the sounds and sights of nature.

Change it up on holidays. Invite family to come early for a pre-feast walk. Those who stay overnight can join you for a walk at a neighborhood preserve in the morning.

Get out of the gym and into nature. Consider taking a portion of your exercise routine outdoors and biking, hiking or snowshoeing together at a local preserve or nature center.

Bring your next birthday, anniversary or family reunion into nature. Many nature centers offer indoor and outdoor spaces for your special event.

At school

Wouldn’t it be great if schools could reduce problem behaviors while increasing focus and academic achievement … without stretching taxpayers’ wallets?

No extra certification required. Sunshine is a well-known antidote to depression and time outdoors can be successful in reducing anxiety, impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Schools can set the expectation that lesson plans will allow for flexibility to take students outside whenever possible to reap these benefits. Whether it’s a class in health, math, English, science or art, changing the teaching setting alone can enliven a class and spark greater discussion and participation.

Green settings, sunlight and natural surroundings minimize school avoidance and other negative and disruptive behaviors when schools encourage teachers to take students outdoors.

Make your case for field trips easier by partnering with a local preserve or nature center to jointly develop programs based on the standards. Take advantage of those aspects of the curriculum that are best taught outdoors and start small, perhaps with one grade level.

Community ideas

Towns and villages can capitalize on the benefits of the go-green movement by implementing the following:

Use your community’s natural features to boost visitation. Place welcome boards or kiosks where visitors arrive and/or park, and well-placed interpretive panels leading them through town to encourage visitors to slow down, observe what’s around them and notice what’s unique about this place.

Offer something for all ages and abilities for local residents and visitors.

Town projects could include linking the town square to nearby bike and walking trails, landscaping with shade trees and providing benches at resting intervals.

Choose sites for community events that are outdoors wherever possible, with accessible parking and paths and programs that are designed with inclusion in mind.

Partner with a park or nature center to get seasonal information on what’s happening locally with nature in your area.

Provide individuals with connections to local sites where they can get outdoors and observe the beauty of each season on their own.

Source: Children Nature Network newsletter.

Kathy Ambrosini is director of Education at Mohonk Preserve and has more than 25 years of experience in the field of environmental education. She originated the Preserve’s NatureAccess program, which helps ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in outdoor activities and programming.

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$100K home makeover drawing to benefit Children’s Miracle Network



UTICA — The Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare Foundation, in partnership with WKTV NewsChannel 2, Lite 98.7FM-WLZW, The Observer-Dispatch, Lewis Custom Homes and Home Builders and Remodelers Association of the Mohawk Valley, are gearing up for the 19th annual $100,000 Miracle Home Makeover to benefit the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital at FSLH. One lucky person will win a $100,000 Miracle Home Makeover or $100,000 in cash. Tickets are on sale now.

Join the FSLH Foundation at the Home Expo on Friday, March 20, Saturday, March 21 and Sunday, March 22 at the Jorgensen Center at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica to kick off this year’s Miracle Home Makeover project. Visit the Home Expo and see the latest in decorating and home improvement ideas, and purchase a ticket for the home makeover drawing.

Individuals who buy their ticket by Wednesday, April 8, will be added to a special early-bird drawing for two great prize packages. The first prize package is a beautiful Weston Fire Pit valued at $1,000, donated and installed by Stone Age Landscaping, and a $250 gift certificate from Meyda Lighting. The second package is a $500 gift certificate from GreenScapes Garden Center and Landscape Company and a $250 gift certificate from Meyda Lighting.

The special prize drawing will be held on Wednesday, April 8, during the 5 p.m. news on WKTV NewsChannel 2.

A maximum of 4,300 tickets are available and may be purchased for $100 each by calling the FSLH Foundation at 315-624-5600 or by visiting The drawing for the Miracle Home Makeover will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 6 p.m. at JAY-K Independent Lumber Corp., Seneca Turnpike, New Hartford.

“The $100,000 Miracle Home Makeover is a wonderful event with amazing community support,” said Eileen Pronobis, CFRE, executive director of the FSLH Foundation. “More than 85 vendors and contractors donate their time, talents and products to this project and we are grateful to them all. And again this year we’ve added incentive drawings that allow those who purchase a ticket a chance to win prizes donated by our vendors throughout the promotion. It makes it exciting and fun for everyone. Remember, the earlier you buy your ticket, the more opportunities you have to win some incredible prizes for your home, donated by our Miracle Home Makeover partners.”

For more information or to purchase a ticket call the FSLH Foundation at 315-624-5600.


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Home and Garden Show offers inspiration


Bishop Nash/The Herald-Dispatch
WSAZ’s Hattie Cheek laughs while holding a baby goat with Tryston, center, and Summer Robinson, of Scioto County, Ohio, during the 2015 WSAZ Home and Garden Show on Friday, March 13, 2015, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.


Bishop Nash/The Herald-Dispatch
Traci Voiers of Ironton, Ohio uses a peanut to kiss Angel the llama during the 2015 WSAZ Home and Garden Show on Friday, March 13, 2015, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.


Bishop Nash/The Herald-DispatchThree-year-old Audrey Horn of Catlettsburg, Ky. reaches out to stroke a baby chick in the petting zoo during the 2015 WSAZ Home and Garden Show on Friday, March 13, 2015, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.


Bishop Nash/The Herald-Dispatch
Mark Temares demonstrates outdoor cooking techniques for Kitchen Craft during the 2015 WSAZ Home and Garden Show on Friday, March 13, 2015, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.


Bishop Nash/The Herald-Dispatch
Stalls and exhibits sprawl across the arena floor during the 2015 WSAZ Home and Garden Show on Friday, March 13, 2015, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.


Bishop Nash/The Herald-Dispatch
Pam Dunlap demonstrates the Rainbow water vaccum cleaning system during the 2015 WSAZ Home and Garden Show on Friday, March 13, 2015, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON – The 2015 WSAZ Home and Garden Show is helping area residents think spring after a hard winter that didn’t go out quietly.

The Big Sandy Superstore Arena was filled with 115 venders prepared to help browsers with all their home improvement needs, from landscaping and roofing to flooring and kitchen remodeling. It is a one-stop shop, WSAZ promotion and event coordinator Molly Browning said.

“It’s a good way to see a lot of things and businesses people didn’t know about,” Browning said. “It’s a good way to get your name out there and see some things you didn’t know you wanted to do to your home. There are a lot of new innovations for your home, and it’s a good way to learn about that.”

Browning said she hopes people come away inspired to do something new to their house or garden.

“I hope they find someone local to do it for them,” she said.

Edison Adkins, landscape designer at Creation Gardens and Designs, said the company has been coming to the show for about 13 years. He said they keep coming back because of how much business they receive.

Adkins said many people come just looking for ideas, but there are also those who know exactly what they are looking for.

“A lot are just looking for ideas,” Adkins said. “The ones we talk to a lot have purpose. They are looking for something specific for their yard, and that could be a lot of things. We cover a pretty large range.”

Tim and Tammy Williams said they always come to the show, even if they aren’t looking for anything specific.

“We have a home and we always like to see what is new,” Tammy Williams said. “This year we are looking at mini-blinds.”

The Home and Garden Show has its final day Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $7, $6 for seniors (55 and over) and free for children 12 and under.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter



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Valley flower show provides a glimpse of spring

The sweet scent of hyacinths and the soft bubbly murmur of a peaceful fish pond were nearly enough distraction to convince attendees at the Valley Flower, Garden Pool Show that spring has come.

Though it rained for half of the indoor show’s duration and cold, windy weather dominated the rest of the run at the Allentown Fairgrounds Agri-Plex, guests had just enough of the spring flavor they were looking for.

Gwen Szy of Bethlehem Township came to the event with her two daughters and granddaughter. Szy purchased a flat of yellow primroses to brighten things up at her home.

“They’re for my flower box on my front porch,” Szy said. “And they come back each year.”

The Agri-Plex hosted several large landscaping displays, with features such as natural stone pavers, arbors entwined with twinkling lights and a large koi pond filled with the large black and orange-flecked fish.

The aromas of fresh mulch and an Eastertime favorite — the hyacinth — filled the air.

Attendees perused hot tubs, swimming pools, shiny new grills and outdoor pizza ovens, picturing warmer days filled with family fun and recreation.

“I’m just enjoying seeing the flowers, I can’t wait for spring to come,” said Janice Szczyglinski of Mount Bethel. “I’m getting some ideas for different things.”

The theme of this year’s show was “Staycation,” and the displays by area contractors, from Parkland Nurseries, Ridgecrest, ABE Fence and more, worked to capture the feeling of long leisurely afternoons basking in a backyard. Parkland Nurseries’ display, with a glowing twinkle-light arbor and paved pathway, summed up the theme as “carefree enjoyment and use of your time in an outdoor space.”

“People are anxious to be out,” said Melissa Morrissey of Rich-Mar, an Allentown florist with a display at the show.

Budding tulips, golden daffodils and curling pussywillow branches mingled with red begonias and budding azalea bushes in landscaping displays. Rustic gazebos and Easter-egg colored Adirondack chairs placed next to a babbling pond beckoned guests to sit and relax.

Handpainted signs stating “I only garden in days that end in Y” or “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes” brought chuckles from anxious gardeners.

Guests gathered for an educational talk on tree pruning with Randy Fey of Randy’s Estate Management.

“I’m thinking spring is coming and maybe this would inspire me,” said Judy Merlo of Phillipsburg. “There’s a nice assortment for different interests.

Vendors offered natural soaps, handmade jewelry, natural dog food, floral decorations and gardening gear. Merlo was interested in learning more about the natural dog food for her toy Australian shepherd.

Other vendors offered potted plants and vegetables, from asparagus crowns, rhubarb roots, and onion sets for those itching to dig in their gardens.

While some vendors felt the attendance was low due to the rainy weather, the guests in attendance were happy they came.

“Everyone’s really waiting for the snow to melt,” said vendor Tracy Meckes of Sciota, owner of One Woman’s Junk. “This makes you want to get out and get your hands in the dirt.”

This year’s event was the fifth annual Valley Flower, Garden Pool Show held at Allentown Fairgrounds Agricultural Hall.

Sarah Fulton is a freelance writer.

Copyright © 2015, The Morning Call

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Cultivating gardening as an art

Joanne and Max Naegele’s creative garden vignettes consistently win awards and accolades at the spring and fall Auburn Home Shows, the Auburn Community Festival and the California State Home Garden Show. Now they are taking their whimsical view of landscaping to the San Francisco Flower Garden Show next week in San Mateo.
It’s a team effort for the Naegeles, who own Foothill Design and Landscape in Meadow Vista.
“(Recently) we spent the entire day talking out the outline in our driveway of what we are going to do,” Joanne Naegele said.
The focal point for the display will be a vintage potting shed.
“We’re calling it “Growing an Artist’s Garden,” she said. “We came up with the theme and we’ve just gone with it.”
The scene will have several unique elements, including what Naegele has dubbed a “thyme-table.”
“The whole table is covered in thyme. The legs are covered in thyme so it looks like it is growing out of the ground or into the ground,” she explained.
There’s also a vegetable bed made with vintage iron bed rails.
“When you are looking at the garden, you’ll notice the table …” she said. “We have a rock seat that will be there. There’s an artist’s easel. You can picture there’s an artist. She is at the table and is going to paint the scene.”
A rock wall made of ledger stone will add to the flavor.
“It’s kind of a dark gray color. It all flows with the iron work that’s kind of rustic,” Naegele said.
Then there’s the water feature.
“It came about on a trip to a nursery in Oregon where we found the cone. It’s about 4 feet tall and made of iron,” she said. “I fell in love with it and had to have it. We packed it into the car and brought it home. So I had a flower made out of iron. The diameter is about 30 inches. Water comes up and kind of floats out of the flower petals and drips down into a reservoir.
There’s even a succulent cake made out of — naturally — succulents.
“I went out and started gathering moss and tiny succulents,” she said.
Naegele made a practice sample just to make sure the concept was viable.
“I’ll make another one before we leave for the show,” she said.
It takes nearly a week to set up the display at the show.
“We both do the work. We are totally hands on,” Joanne Naegele said. “We have an excellent stone mason who will help and our son will help as well. He’ll contribute a mosaic he made and he’ll help build the shed.”
Although the main elements are carefully planned and even partially executed before they arrive at the show, there’s also a lot of improvisation during setup of the display.
Once the show begins, the Naegeles will remain at the exhibit to answer visitors’ questions.
“My husband will entertain people,” Joanne  said. “He plays guitar so he’ll be tucked in there and playing classical music.”
One of the joys of participating in the garden shows is meeting the people
“A lot of clients come back every year just to see what we do,” Naegele said about vignettes they’ve had at other events. “It’s exciting to see old faces and talk to them about how their garden is working. We get a lot of referrals and people just like what we do. They want that same flavor at home.”
At the San Francisco Flower Garden show there’s a competitive element, too.
“There are probably 16 designers competing, (many of them) big companies throughout the Bay Area and Northern California,” she said.
For the local shows, part of what makes the displays so successful is  assistance from Eisley Nursery in Auburn and Lakes Nursery in Newcastle, who furnish plant material that is for sale at the show, Naegele said.
“One year we built a rose garden with the façade of a little house and had a walkway and everything,” Naegele said. “I was able to sell all those roses. … Our gardens wouldn’t look as good as they do without the help from Eisley Nursery and Lake’s Nursery’s generosity. ”
Naegele has been a landscape designer for 14 years, after earning certification through a program at Sierra College.
“I always gardened.  Even as a child we had vegetable gardens,” she said. “I did other work prior to figuring out what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life. This is my true gift — creating and designing gardens for people.”
The San Francisco Flower  Garden Show is an annual favorite for Donner Garden Club member Wanda Webb.
“You get to see all the new gardening ideas and tools that have come out,” she said. “My mom loves scented geraniums. They always have new ones.  The landscapes that the landscapers build are beautiful. It is amazing what they bring into those buildings. The whole place is full of beautiful flowers, trees, bushes. …  I love the seminars that are presented each year. They generally have someone from HGTV or DIY for one of the seminars.”

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McAnally, Kluver offer tips at Home & Garden Expo

Bill McAnally, the first speaker at the 2015 Home Garden Expo on the East Campus of Iowa Central Community College, offered advice to prospective remodelers and home builders.

Deciding whether to work on their existing home, or build, is the first choice.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Gardening expert Jerry Kluver talks about spring lawn care Saturday afternoon during his presentation at the Home Garden Expo on the East Campus of Iowa Central Community College.

“This a long-term and in some cases very stressful decision,” he said.

Factors like financial payback figure into it.

“If you put a $70,000 addition on your home how much will you get back?” he asked. “The average is about 66 percent.”

For an existing home, remodeling can not only make a mess, but raises the issue of finding room for the possessions in the area to be worked on.

“You have to ask yourself, can I live like this for awhile and where do I put all this stuff?” he said.

He suggested the first order of business is a complete inspection. Then once the work is decided on, proper building codes, particularly energy codes, must be followed.

“You need to say it’s going to be built to these codes,” he said.

He said that can pay off. He cited a 4,000-square-foot home where he helped supervise construction. Following the minimal energy codes and taking care in the selection of materials and making sure the work was done properly, the energy bills for the geothermally heated and cooled home average $85 per month.

“How hard is it to do that?” McAnally asked. “It’s a D-level build, it’s absolutely minimum.”

He also suggests doing work from the outside.

“You can take off the siding,” he said. “It lets you see if the structure is sound.”

It also offers another big advantage.

“There’s no mess,” he said.

There are plenty of situations where a retrofit, such as a new high efficiency furnace, does little good without other modifications. In the case of the heating system it was necessary to install the duct work to work with the new furnace.

Loren Miller, of Fort Dodge, is considering building a home. He said he learned a lot from the presentation.

“I especially enjoyed the geothermal,” he said. “It’s something we’ve looked at a lot. He’s got a wealth of knowledge.”

Jerry Kluver, with Hy-Vee’s Garden Center at the Urbandale store, had plenty of information on getting out there now that spring has appeared to have arrived.

He spoke twice in the afternoon and began with a simple question.

“Is everybody tired of winter?” he asked.

Kluver said he’s beginning to see signs.

“The grass is starting to turn a little shade of green,” he said.

He said it won’t be long.

“Go out there and rake your yard,” he said. “In about 10 days, you can put a little grass seed down if you want to.”

He said it’s also soon time to treat for weeds. He said the best weapon against weeds is a healthy lawn.

“If you’ve got a good thick yard,” he said, “you don’t really need any weed killer.”

He said that creeping Charlie seems to be a problem this year.

“I swear that stuff grows under the snow,” he joked.

“I suggest spraying it three times 10 days apart,” he said.

As spring turns to summer, he warned that it will probably be time to do something about insects.

“By July 1, you’ll want to put on an insecticide. It will take care of your grubs,” he said.

Of course, it also helps with other pests such as ticks, chiggers and fleas.

Later in the season, it’s time to fertilize, around Aug. 1, he suggested.

In September, it’s time to winterize again.

He said that an emerging trend is to use products that are pet- and child-safe. Most chemicals now require at least 24 hours before either is allowed on the lawn.

Another product he suggested was gypsum.

“It’s a great product. Lawns need calcium,” he said.

That, and applications of lime, are only needed once in a while. Aerating the lawn is another lawn task that can be done in the spring although it’s sometimes done in the fall as well.

“Spring or fall,” he said. “I like them both.”

The Home Garden Expo features more than 70 vendors. The show continues today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The East Campus is at 2031 Quail Ave. Admission is $3 or two cans of food. The event is sponsored by The Messenger, Iowa Central Community College and the Fort Dodge Homebuilders Association.

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