Born in Northwest Indiana, Laura's a graduate of River Forest High School (home of the Ingots) and got her bachelor's degree from Purdue and a master's from Indiana University [we think she roots for both even when they play each other].

Her work has won several awards from the Indiana Broadcasters Association, Society of Professional Journalists/Indiana Chapter, and Network Indiana. She has also had academic papers selected for presentation at national conferences like the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and Broadcast Education Association.

Laura watched her share of game shows growing up and one summer while in California, she's chosen to be a contestant on "Sale of the Century". Her TV favorites include The Honeymooners, Project Runway, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who and Star Trek (TNG and the original). She also enjoys crossword puzzles and when asked what some of her favorite places to visit are she says -- office supply stores.


Portage Community Garden Fundraiser Jan 19

Green Zone

Portage Community Garden is having its 2nd Annual Spaghetti Dinner Fund Raiser Jan 19th from 3-7PM at Real Life Community Church 3134 Swanson Road, Portage. Tickets available contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Phil Graham 219-973-1877.
Fazoli's is co sponsor so food is great. $10 adults, $5 children under 12( $1 more at the door) Last year we raised over 4000 lbs of organic vegetables for food banks, homeless shelters, Salvation Army , and needy families in NW Indiana. See you there and thanks for your support.


NW Ind Pet Project and Kibble Kitchen Seeking Volunteers

Animal Corner

Volunteers needed! Come to the Meet & Greet Saturday January 25th!  If you are interested in volunteering your time to an organization working with pets and people then The NW Indiana Pet Project & Kibble Kitchen maybe for you! We are hosting an informational volunteer meeting and would love to meet you. Please join us for an afternoon get together and see what we are all about, ask questions, and if interested fill out a volunteer application. All are welcome and for those that bring a guest you will be entered into a drawing for a door prize!  Volunteers must be 18 or older anyone under that must be accompanied by an adult.

Please RSVP prior to January 18th limited seating of 40 guests so don't miss out!

The Kibble Kitchen Pet Pantry will be opening services to parts of Lake County in 2014 and all hands on deck will be needed to be successful! Please join us as we continue our mission of keeping pets and families together!

We look forward to meeting each of you!

Sat Jan 25m, 2014, 2-4:30pm at the Portage Public Library 2665 Irving St For more information call 219-734-6936


Spring Master Gardener Course

Green Zone

The Purdue Extension Master Gardener course is to be offered over a 13 week period from February 24th to May 19th, 2014.

Schedule:        9:00 AM – 12 Noon Monday

Location:         Purdue North Central – Porter County

                        600 Vale Park Road

                        Graduate Building – Room 124

                        Valparaiso, IN 46385

This course will cover basic gardening and horticultural topics for the motivated gardener with an interest in sharing information and helping others.  The faculty of Purdue University and other local institutions will participate. 

Eligible participants and costs:  Porter County residents will have priority in enrollment.  The cost is $200.00 for the course.  The class size will be limited due to size of available facilities. 

Course Coordinator – Lyndsay Ploehn, Purdue Extension, Porter County.   

219 465 3555


Seminars at the 11th Annual Gardening Show

Green Zone

Hirvela Photo

Valparaiso, IN, Jan. 8, 2014 – Former garden editor and writer for Martha Stewart Living magazine Stacey Hirvela is the keynote speaker for the 11th Annual Gardening Show on Sat., Jan. 25.  Hirvela, now the Proven Winners Shrub Specialist will present, “The Elegant Shrubs,” beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Porter County Expo, 215 E. Division Rd., Valparaiso, IN.  A host of seminars and demonstrations follow throughout the day:

10:30 am
"A to Z of Landscape Questions You Forgot to Ask"
Amanda Thomsen, Author, "Kiss My Aster" followed by book sales and signing at 11:30

"How We Reclaimed Wolf Lake"
Gregg Calpino, SEH Award-winning Landscape Architect

11:30 am
"Welcome Spring with Hosta, Heuchera and Hellebore"
Greg Stack, University of Illinois Extension Educator

12:30 pm
"150 Ways to Create a Fantastic Yard Totally Tailored to You" Amanda Thomsen

1:30 pm
"Instant Gratification Spring Container"
Jennifer Brennan, ABC-TV Channel 7 Horticulture Correspondent

"Wetlands - the Ordinary and the Extraordinary"
Victoria Jostes, Lake County Master Gardener

2:30 pm
"Edible Ornamentals"
Jennifer Brennan

"Choosing the Right Tree for Your City Yard"
Gina Darnell, Urban Forester and Forest Resource Planner

Demonstrations Schedule

11:30 am
Worm Composting
Abe Paluch, Outreach Educator
Recycling & Waste Reduction District of Porter County

12:30 pm
Butterfly Conservation at Home
Dolly Foster, Lake County Master Gardener

1:30 pm
Caring for Your Garden Tools
Mike Barrett, Alternate Plan Landscape Service

2:30 pm
Butterfly Conservation at Home
Dolly Foster

The 11th Annual Gardening Show will be held 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST (Chicago time) on Sat., Jan. 25.  This award-winning event features presentations by national, regional and local gardening experts, special lodging & dining packages, a seed & bulb exchange, garden photography contest, children's corner, food service by Suzie’s Café and Tate’s Place, and 100 exhibitors and vendors of products and services for and about gardens and gardening.  Admission is $10, children under 12 free, free parking and door prizes.  For more info visit http://pcgarden.info/gardening_show.html

Photo:  Stacey Hirvela, presently with the marketing team for Proven Winners ColorChoice Flowering Shrubs, will share her love of gardening with attendees at the 11th Annual Gardening Show.  Hirvela is a graduate of University of Michigan and the School of Professional Horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden.


2nd Annual Rain Barrel Design Competition in Porter County

Green Zone

Schools, classes invited to compete in rain barrel design contest

Porter County –Schools in Porter County are invited to participate in the second annual Rain Barrel Design Competition, sponsored by the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County in cooperation with Porter County MS4 communities.

Teachers interested in participating must register for the competition on www.ItMeansTheWorld.org by Jan. 31.

This year, the contest will feature a semi-final judging event at the Porter County Government Administration Building in Valparaiso. The finalists will move on to compete against barrels designed by classes and schools in Lake and LaPorte Counties at the Northwest Indiana Earth Day Celebration on April 19!

Winners at the Earth Day Celebration will take home classroom cash scholarships.

“Thanks to the Lake County Solid Waste Management District and the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District for spearheading the barrel contests in their counties, we will truly have a tri-county contest at this year’s Earth Day event,” said Donna Stuckert, public education coordinator for the district.

Participants will receive a rain barrel that they can paint or decorate with environmentally-friendly materials to illustrate an environmental theme.

All schools, public and private, and all grades are invited to participate Limitations include one barrel per school.

For more information, contact Donna at the District, 219-465-3819.


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