Since she was a teenager, Katherine Ahlgren knew she was meant to garden. “My parents loved to garden," Ahlgren said. "As a teenager, I would help them out in the garden, but when my father died when I was 16, I helped my mother more, and gardening turned into something I loved to do.”
Ahlgren was the co-founder of the Lake Superior Rose Society, which was founded in 1996. Along with two others, Ahlgren has shown leadership in this society ever since it was established.
“I think there was a need for a society in Duluth that invited new members and involved the community,” Ahlgren said.
Mary Tennis, Duluth’s city Rosarian, has been working for the city for 18 years and has been a major part in managing the Duluth Rose Garden and other parks throughout Duluth.
“Kathy takes a leadership role and keeps the society going,” Tennis said.
Before working with the Lake Superior Rose Society, Ahlgren was committed to educating herself more. In 1994, Ahlgren became a master gardener and was trained by the University of Minnesota forest extension program.
“The training was very intensive,” Ahlgren said. “To become a part of the program, you had to test in, and to complete the program you had to test out.”
Ahlgren’s early experience in the garden with her parents and her ambition to learn more and educate herself about gardening allowed her to be successful throughout her life.
“I love being a part of the Lake Superior Rose Society,” Ahlgren said. “I find it stimulating, and the people I have met have become my good friends."
The Lake Superior Rose Society meets up to five times a year, including at the annual Rose Fest, which takes place every July. Rose Fest is a time were members and non-members meet at the Duluth Rose Garden in Leif Erickson Park to give tours and presentations as well as teach people how to plant and care for a rose plant.
With the work of Ahlgren, the members of the Lake Superior Rose Society and volunteers, the Duluth Rose Garden was recognized in 1997 because of the great quality of roses and standard excellence displayed in the garden.
“Kathy’s leadership and determination to get things done for the society is admirable,” Tennis said.
Ahlgren has since been acknowledged for her gardening consulting and was awarded outstanding consulting in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. She continues to plant and care for her own garden and is still a strong leader in the Lake Superior Rose Society.