URI Master Gardener honored for volunteering 10,000 hours

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Narragansett resident is first Master Gardener to reach milestone

KINGSTON, R.I. – February 4, 2011 — Rudi Hempe, a University of Rhode Island Master Gardener from Narragansett, reached a milestone recently that no one else has ever achieved. He became the first URI Master Gardener to accumulate 10,000 volunteer hours in the program.

To recognize this accomplishment, he was presented with a special award by John Kirby, dean of the URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences.

Since graduating from the Master Gardener program in 1999, Hempe has been a strong force for leadership in the Master Gardener Association, and he has initiated a number of new projects.

His role today is as the Master Gardener projects coordinator. He leads a large number of Saturday morning workers – affectionately called Rudi’s Rangers — who do a variety of jobs at URI’s East Farm, where many of the Master Gardener projects are based. Recently they finished construction of a Hypertufa Shelter, which provides more workspace for the creation of hypertufa, an artificial stone recipe for use in making container gardens. The Rangers are also building a heated space to store liquid pesticides at East Farm.

Hempe is also involved in a construction project at the URI Agronomy Farm and a research project on building and maintaining a chestnut orchard, as well as projects on native plants and shoreline wildlife habitat restoration. He serves on the executive board of the Master Gardener Association, and he is the secretary of the Master Gardener Foundation.