MONTROSE, Pa. — Many listeners of WPEL radio feel as if they know Susquehanna County Penn State Extension Master Gardener Catherine Hynes personally. Catherine has been doing a weekly radio program on gardening related topics for 18 years. Thousands tune in weekly and often call the Penn State Extension office in Montrose for additional information on topics she speaks on.
Catherine’s colorful personality shines though both on air and in person! At Master Gardener events, you can count on Catherine to be perhaps dressed in a bee costume, or wool overhauls and sporting an array of scarves, hats, or colorful headbands. As always, a quick wit and sense of humor caps it all off.
Catherine and her husband Ed first came to Susquehanna County in 1990 from southern New Jersey for a project and knew at that moment this was place they would eventually settle. “Once I was here and smelled the grass and the cows, I knew I was home.” Catherine said. It took another 10 years for she and her husband to close things down in New Jersey, sell two homes and move permanently to their property in Nicholson affectionately known as “Brigadoon”.
Catherine recalls that one day she and Ed were sightseeing on Route 29 north and as she was reading the local Penny Saver she saw an article asking if anyone was interested in becoming a Penn State Master Gardener. It sounded interesting to her and she had the time, since she was newly retired. Catherine went through the Master Gardener training offered by Penn State Extension in 2002 and became a certified Penn State Master Gardener in 2003!
With Catherine’s personality and ease of speak she took on the project of hosting “Hello Fellow Gardener” a weekly radio program on Wednesdays after the noon news segment on Montrose’s own WPEL 96.5 radio. Catherine is celebrating her 18th year with the Master Gardener program and hosting the WPEL Master Gardener radio spot!
“I had some experience as a radio host of a weekly program in southern New Jersey on re-styling and renovating homes back in 1989, so I suppose they thought I was a good fit!” Catherine says.
Catherine says choosing a topic to speak on is easy! “Seasonal tips and hints are always useful, and the Farmer’s Almanac provides plenty of quips that old timers remember and can relate to.” she says. She talks about many aspects of gardening from the very down to earth beginners guidance to getting it actually started and taking advantage of the fact based research offered by Penn State on Trees, Fruit bearing shrubs, bulbs, lawn, compost and more. She also answers listeners questions and has discussions on air.
“I almost always chat about the latest critter or insect. I have even brought my grandkids on the program.” “I was proud, they did really well, telling listeners how they plant marigolds and the bunny control methods they use,” Catherine says. “So, in a generational way we are spreading the word of gardening!” she adds.
Catherine remembers a funny encounter at a Mother Earth convention 7 hours away in Somerset, PA. “I was haggling with a merchant over Carlisi Viburnum, when a lady tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was Catherine Hynes from WPEL Radio!”
She says that people who listen to the radio program stop and say hello to her in restaurants after they hear her order food and recognize her voice! “It’s really flattering to know they listen. If I run into a fellow gardener in the nearby market, I can count on a conversation about tomato blight or the latest methods on vole control.” she adds.
Catherine is not one to let moss gather. Since moving to Susquehanna County she taught herself how to make soap and became a beekeeper. To share the joy, she began hosting a few workshops for friends. “The beeswax and honey are truly gifts’ of nature…I sell the honey at Harford Fair and I have a good share of ribbons won for the items I’ve entered.” she says. “There is nothing like the aroma perfume of beeswax…it’s intoxicating.” she adds. Catherine also has a flock of colorful chickens that ‘help’ her in her garden!
“The Master Gardener program has been a way for me to keep active, keep learning, meet new interesting and ‘interested’ people at our programs, meetings, and potluck gatherings.” she says. “Having the experience and what I have gained is priceless.” she adds.
For more information on the Penn State Master Gardener program call Penn State Extension Office at 570.666.9003 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Even though our office doors may be closed we are still open for business!
–Kimberly Grace, Susquehanna County Master Gardeners