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Mentors are teaching young people about planting flowers

June 2, 2005

A Photo of the Interns at the May 19th Orientation is Available Electronically.  Photo is Courtesy of Patricia Peters of North Branch.

[LIBERTY] – Sullivan County youth are learning horticulture as gardening interns this summer while assisting local Sullivan Renaissance groups with the care of their flowers.

Sullivan Renaissance is collaborating with the Center for Workforce Development (CWD) and Cornell Cooperative Extension to provide paid internships to 17 young people who are supporting the work of Category B projects.

“We have spent a lot of time speaking with young people about their involvement in community projects,” said Sandra Gerry, who chairs the Sullivan Renaissance Steering Committee.  “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to provide an internship that can pay a stipend and provide an educational experience, while also supporting the work of the Renaissance projects to ensure beautiful flowers throughout the county.”


The interns will work 10 hours per week for 10 weeks between now and Labor Day.  Each participant receives advice from a gardening mentor to learn how to plant, weed, water and care for the gardens in their project.  Many of the mentors are from Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardener Program; others are experienced gardeners from within the communities.


The young people attended an orientation in May where they received information about their job responsibilities, learned work readiness skills and met their mentors.  At the end of the season, they will provide one-page summaries of their experience.


This new collaboration with the Gerry Foundation allows us to provide another avenue for youth employment opportunities.  The interns working this summer will learn new skills, develop pride in their community, earn money and have some fun,” said CWD Director Laura Quigley.  “We have many other ways of helping people find work – for adults as well as young people – and all one has to do is contact our One-Stop Center in Monticello.”


Sullivan Renaissance is providing the funding, the Center for Workforce Development is administering the program, and Cornell Cooperative Extension is overseeing the educational portion of the internship.  Interns are supervised by the Renaissance groups which hired them.


The communities, interns and mentors are:

·        Callicoon: Intern Margie Gabriel and Gardening Mentor Alison Smith

·        Cochecton Center: Intern Amanda Cusumano and Gardening Mentor Linda Walker

·        Fallsburg: Intern Julio Ayala and Gardening Mentor Will Conway

·        Forestburgh: Intern Kayla Gager and Gardening Mentor Norman Dutweiler

·        Hortonville: Intern Patricia Knack and Gardening Mentor Brenda Monahan

·        Jeffersonville: Intern Ben Tonjes and Gardening Mentor Rich Tony

·        Liberty LEAP: Intern Cody Houghtaling and Gardening Mentor Robert Hayes

·        Long Eddy: Intern Ricky Pena and Gardening Mentor Mary Butremuck    

·        Mountaindale Community Development: Intern Ashley Hunter and Gardening Mentor Susan Leventoff

·        Mountaindale Action Committee: Intern Leo Pucklis and Gardening Mentor Mrs. Pucklis

·        Neversink Intern Casey Grey and Gardening Mentor Dave Moore

·        North Branch: Intern Michelle Beirne

·        Rock Hill: Intern Tyler Salovin and Gardening Mentor Glenn Fodor

·        Swan Lake: Intern Mark Lagatutta and Gardening Mentor Thomas Lagatutta

·        Woodbourne Action Committee: Intern Dana Burkart and Gardening Mentor Maggie Pichura

·        Woodridge: Intern Jamie DeFazio and Gardening Mentor Nancy Hughes

·        Wurtsboro: Intern John Grogan and Gardening Mentor Joanne Lyons


Sullivan Renaissance 2005 includes more financial support to local communities, an increased emphasis on planning, and a renewed commitment to flowers.  A record number of 42 projects are participating and must be completed by August 8.   


Sullivan Renaissance is a two-phase aesthetic improvement program of the Beaverkill Foundation with support from the Gerry Foundation.  Through seed grants, communities are encouraged to remove eyesores, improve signage, restore business facades, plant gardens and create landscaping that enhances the surroundings.  Sullivan Renaissance has funded 125 projects in 15 towns and 5 villages in Sullivan County over the previous four years. 


For more information, contact Sullivan Renaissance at 845-295-2445 or visit the website at