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Garden U promises day of great speakers

The St. Croix Valley Master Gardeners Association will host Garden U on Saturday, March 17 at the Hudson House Grand Hotel in Hudson. On-site registration starts at 8:30 a.m. A $40 fee includes lunch and speaker handouts. Pre-registration can be done by mailing a check payable to SCVMGA to Barrette-SCVMGA at 1358 County Rd V, Houlton, WI, 54082. Questions can be directed to 715-549- 6438 or stcroixvlymga// for more information.

Speakers at this year's Garden U education day will focus on land and water programs protecting groundwater and gardening sustainably. Lunch is included, as well as door prizes and the "Garden Marketplace" to browse all things "garden-y" during breaks.

The first speaker of the morning is Janine Kohn, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources statewide program coordinator for Water Education and Outreach (Project WET). Kohn works with educators, youth, volunteers and a wide array of partners around the state and country. She will share information about healthy water systems and how individuals play a valuable role in their communities.

Kohn's 28-year career in education led her to work as a teacher in charter schools outside Denver. She also worked for two environmental education companies in south Florida. She has served as an education consultant for various groups and has worked with schools and non-profits around the country to create schoolyard habitats and camping/fishing programs. Her passion is working with youth and families, sharing her experiences with others.

Monica Zachay is the Land and Water Director with the St. Croix River Association (SCRA). She has been with the SCRA for six years working with multiple stakeholders throughout the watershed to reduce nutrient pollution runoff, restore unique habitats, and protect critical forestlands. Zachay received a B.S. in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.

Well acquainted with water quality issues affecting the St. Croix River, Zachay will discuss water resource and water quality issues in the St. Croix watershed, specifically how water quality is connected to our surrounding landscapes. She will also address what the biggest threats to water quality are locally.

The afternoon speaker, Bonnie Blodgett, is a writer and journalist who specializes in environmental gardening. An avid gardener, she writes a weekly column called The Blundering Gardener for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and is a regular commentary writer for the Star Tribune. She has written five books and numerous articles for national and regional magazines.

Blodgett's presentation will address gardeners as front line participants and ambassadors in the sustainability effort of natural resources and Master Gardeners' inherent credibility due to spending so much time learning about nature.

Blodgett will share her thoughts on how to garden sustainably in the 21st century. She will discuss the remarkable "enlightenment" going on among millennials whose passion for nutritious food is having a "bottom up" effect on how we live on the planet. She will show pictures of her own garden and looks forward to a lively discussion among her fellow gardeners.