Grange to honor community volunteers

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The Prospect Grange will honor John Dyckman of Prospect as its Citizen of the Year Sunday for his contributions to the community, including serving as scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 258. –LUKE MARSHALL
The Prospect Grange will honor John Dyckman of Prospect as its Citizen of the Year Sunday for his contributions to the community, including serving as scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 258. –LUKE MARSHALL

PROSPECT — In 1993 John Dyckman moved to Prospect with his wife Audra. It didn’t take long for him to become involved in his new community.

A few years after the Prospect Land Trust was founded in 1995 to preserve and protect open space in town, Dyckman joined the organization. Dyckman, a 49-year-old licensed arborist and outdoor lover, said he got involved with the trust simply because he felt he could contribute to the organization.

Dyckman would go on to serve as president of the trust for six years. During his time as president, the trust secured a grant from the United Way of Greater Waterbury to aid in the construction of a hiking trail at College Farms — a roughly 5.5 acre parcel of land on Cambridge Drive.

While he no longer serves as the trust’s president, Dyckman remains an active member of the organization. He credits his love for the outdoors in part to his time as a Boy Scout growing up in Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C.

Dyckman’s days involved scouting aren’t over. In 2008, his son crossed over from Cub Scouts into Boy Scout Troop 258 and Dyckman wasn’t far behind.

He soon after joined the troop as its advancement chair and is now its scoutmaster. Eighteen scouts have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout — six under Dyckman’s watch — in the eight year history of the troop.

Dyckman said the fulfillment of watching youth grow into their own as leaders is what makes him stay involved in scouts. He added scouting also give the adults involved a healthy environment to learn about themselves as well.

“It’s the satisfaction of seeing a lot of youth take the opportunities that are presented and develop into mature young men and leaders,” Dyckman said.

Whether it’s the land trust or Troop 258, Dyckman said it takes the efforts of a lot of dedicated people working together to achieve a goal.

However, for all Dyckman does in the community — he is also a staunch supporter of the American Red Cross blood donor program — the Prospect Grange is honoring him as its Citizen of the Year.

“It’s nice to be recognized but I do it because I want to set the right example for my kids and the people I work with, and it’s important to contribute back to the community,” Dyckman said.

Dyckman will be honored during a ceremony on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Prospect Senior Center on Center Street.

Jean Meehan, Prospect Grange secretary and community service chairman, said each year the Grange recognizes ordinary people who volunteer behind the scenes in the community as way to show appreciation for what they do.

Dyckman won’t be the only one in the spotlight come Sunday. Tom Wheeler and Dave Rubino, co-owners of Plumb Farm Nursery & Flowers, will be recognized with the Grange’s Public Service Award.

Dave Rubino, left, and Tom Wheeler, co-owners of Plumb Farm Nursery & Flowers on Cheshire Road in Prospect, will be recognized with the Prospect Grange’s Public Service Award on Sunday. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Dave Rubino, left, and Tom Wheeler, co-owners of Plumb Farm Nursery & Flowers on Cheshire Road in Prospect, will be recognized with the Prospect Grange’s Public Service Award on Sunday. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

“It was just very nice of them to recognize us,” said Wheeler, a 53-year-old Bethany resident.

The farm on Cheshire Road dates back to the 1700s and has been in Wheeler’s family since the 1860s. Wheeler and Rubino have co-owned the flower farm for the past 20 years and over that time they haven’t been strangers in the community.

Meehan said Wheeler and Rubino were chosen for the Public Service Award because they offer free floral and horticulture classes and presentations for community organizations, particularly garden clubs, and also support veterans’ organizations in town.

Rubino, 53 of Bethany, said it’s a great honor to be recognized. He said the donations and classes are just a way to support different organizations in town and give back to the community.

Rubino said garden clubs have been good to Wheeler and himself over the years, adding they both received college scholarship from garden clubs. When they do a free class, he said, sometimes all they’ll ask is for people to make a donation to a scholarship fund if the group has one.

Wheeler and Rubino both said they were surprised when they learned about receiving the Public Service Award.

Wheeler, who has been a member of the Grange for over 30 years, said they don’t do what they do for the recognition.

“I don’t think we’re doing anything that anyone is not supposed to do,” Wheeler said.

The Grange, which is celebrating its 119th year, will also honor longtime members Althea Hubbell (70 years), Irving Davis (65 years), Paul Miller (60 years) and Marguarite Moran (55 years) for their years of service during Sunday’s ceremony.

The public is welcome to attend the ceremony and learn more about the Grange. For more information, call Meehan at (203) 758-5653.