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Two Highland Park Residents Receive Awards at Chicago Botanic Garden Volunteer Recognition Reception

Rhoda Muchmore awarded Five Star Customer Service Award and Susie Mahon selected as Garden’s Super Senior

Hannah Nowicki
(847) 835-6954, direct

Release Date: 
Tuesday, July 8, 2014

GLENCOE, IL (July 8, 2014) –Rhoda Muchmore, of Highland Park, was awarded the Five Star Customer Service Award at a recent reception at the Chicago Botanic Garden acknowledging the ongoing dedication and support of more than 2,000 volunteers. Muchmore is known for consistently going above and beyond to provide spectacular customer service to Garden visitors. Throughout her 20 years at the Garden, Muchmore has volunteered with weekend programs, special events, the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, the membership desk in the Visitor Center and adult continuing education classes. Harriet Resnick, vice president of visitor experience and business development, presented the award and quoted tributes from Muchmore’s colleagues. One said, “Rhoda’s presence makes every event she is a part of a success,” while another looks up to Muchmore for always “being flexible, amenable, and having a smile on her face.”

Susie Mahon, of Highland Park, selected as the Garden’s Super Senior, has dedicated more than 3,500 hours of service. Mahon has supported the Garden in countless ways and can brighten anyone’s day with her infectious positive attitude. She is a pleasure to work with, and appears tireless and up for any task. Mahon has worked to maintain the plant collection in the Greenhouses, taught children with the Camp CBG team, welcomed visitors, and preserved seeds for the Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank Preparation Laboratory and Seed Bank at the Daniel F. and Ada L. Plant Conservation Science Center. Mahon is known for asking insightful questions and is curious about the bigger picture.

Rodger McDowall, a resident of Hoffman Estates, was named the 2013 Chicago Botanic Garden Volunteer of the Year. The award, launched in 1984, recognizes the spirit of volunteering by focusing attention on the contributions given by all volunteers as well as honors one volunteer for his or her outstanding service. McDowall has contributed more than 2,800 hours of service since he began volunteering at the Garden in 2008 and has dedicated his time and leadership abilities to the Garden as a vital team member of Plant Information Services, Plant Production Outdoor Floriculture, Grounds Cover Newsletter Committee, the Chicago Flower & Garden Show, and The Orchid Show. Also recognized was Rosemary Hart, of Chicago, who received the Barbara Whitney Carr Excellence in Leadership Award for her breathtaking photographs and work as a Living Plant Documentation volunteer team leader. Hart has contributed more than 4,200 hours of service since she started volunteering in 2000 and recently spent her time archiving important documents for the Lenhardt Library

Judy Cashen, director of volunteer administration and engagement, thanked all the volunteers for their important work and continued support of the Garden. Among their many contributions, the volunteers were instrumental in achieving a new visitation record of one million visitors to the Garden in 2013. Cashen was gleaming as she shared her experience working with this amazing group, saying, “It is humbling to be part of this wonderful organization with such great people. We could not do what we do without your support and friendship.” 

All volunteers were recognized for their contributions and support of the Garden, including those who volunteered for five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 years. 2013 marked 40 years of volunteering for Marilyn Alaimo, who has donated nearly 8,000 hours of her time to school programs, walking tours, the information desk, and Lenhardt Library. Each volunteer received a butterfly weed plant (Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Formula Mix’) with a plant care description from Brian Clark, manager of plant production, who worked with the plant production team to grow the plants from seeds. 

In 2013, the Chicago Botanic Garden had more than 2,000 volunteers contribute their time and knowledge giving more than 112,000 hours of service. For information on volunteer opportunities at the Chicago Botanic Garden, call (847)835-8392 or visit the Garden’s website at


Editors, please note: For digital images, contact Jasmine Leonas at (847) 835-6829 or at

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