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Extension Representatives Brief Commissioners on Gardening, Avian Influenza

Friday, May 13, 2022 @ 12:05 AM

Posted by Ron Wilshire

master gardnersCLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Clarion County Penn State Extension Office representatives Robert Dickinson and Melissa Dolecki joined the Clarion County Commissioners earlier this week to give an update on everything from master gardeners to ticks to helping Ted Tharan prepare to grow taters.

(Pictured above: Robert Dickinson, Penn State Extension Client Relationship Manager, and Melissa Dolecki, Clarion County Master Gardener Coordinator, update commissioners on activities and answer a few questions.)

Dickinson introduced Dolecki, the new master gardener coordinator for Clarion County, to the commissioners during their work session.

“I am a wife and mom and small business owner,” said Dolecki. “I was hired in March, and I’ve been a master gardener for a year. Master Gardeners help Penn State Extension better serve the home gardening public by answering questions, speaking to groups, and writing gardening articles.

“We work with the youth. We do gardening and demonstration gardens. We participate in the Penn State Pollinator Research Program, and Clarion County has 26 certified master gardener volunteers. We have plants started down at the County Park and in the demonstration garden greenhouse. We have educational dates soon where we can have other outside interests come in and help us plant a lasagna garden, an urban garden pollinator garden, and the freedom garden.

Commissioner Ed Heasley asked what a lasagna garden was, but don’t get your hopes up, it’s not what you were hoping for.

Dolecki explained that a lasagna garden is a name given to the way the garden is made. You lay cardboard down, then mulch, and compost for layering, and then plants are put into your compost.

“The Freedom Garden truly needs some revamping,” continued Dolecki. “Started as a 9-1-1 project, it has not been beautified in the past few years. I’d like to coordinate a day to get that back in shape.

“We do partner with Community Action. Some of the plants grown in the greenhouse are given to them for their food bank. We’ll be at the Clarion County Fair in July. Anyone can reach out to us at the extension office. You can also use our website and state extension to find out more about master gardening.”

The Extension office is located at Applewood Center, 160 South 2nd Avenue, Suite B and information is also available on online at or 814-223-9028.

Dickinson offered some updates on avian influenza. As of May 3 in Pennsylvania, nine commercial flocks have been quarantined.

“There have been zero backyard flocks affected, but about four million birds have been depopulated now,” Dickinson said. “Why is it critical for Clarion County? Well, we have a lot of migratory birds coming through here with Canadian geese and ducks. We have to be cognizant of that, and we have a lot of backyard poultry folks. They need to understand what avian influenza is and what does it look like if their flock should get it.”

People often request information on ticks at the extension office, but Dickinson pointed to a new source at East Stroudsburg for the identification of ticks.

“If you haven’t had a tick on you, and you don’t know what it is you can go to Google Tick Lab, they will tell you how to package up the tick and send it to them,” Dickinson said. “Once they receive the tick, you get a result in less than 24 hours. They tell you if it’s got Lyme or not. It’s a free service, and I’ve utilized it. I got my results back through the mail in less than 48 hours. I highly recommend the tick lab.”

The Extension offices provide information on all things growing and people offer advice faster than Google.

Commissioner Ted Tharan took advantage of their visit and recommendations on growing potatoes. Tharan Tater Tots are on the way.

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